The University of Central Arkansas Bears rallied twice on Senior Day but could not mount a third comeback in falling 7-4 to Sam Houston State in the regular-season finale at Bear Stadium.
UCA will face No. 2 seed Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the SLC Tournament at Texas State’s Bobcat Ballpark in San Marcos, Texas. The Bears tied for sixth place with Stephen F. Austin but drew the seventh seed by way of the tiebreaker rules.
The Bears (25-28, 16-17), who secured their first Southland Conference Tournament bid on Friday night, got a two-run home run from senior first baseman Bryan Willson to tie it at 2-2 in the sixth inning. The league-leading Bearkats went back ahead 3-2 in the top of the seventh but the Bears turned to another senior, designated hitter Blake Roberts, who launched his team-high seventh home run over the left-field fence to tie it at 3-3.
SHSU scored two more runs in the eighth and ninth innings while the Bears managed one more in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single to left center by Roberts that scored junior Garrett Brown. But SHSU replaced its closer Michael Burchett with Allen Scott and he worked out of the jam, leaving two runners on base, for his fourth save.
UCA had only six hits, with Roberts going 2 for 4 with two RBI. Willson went 1 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored. The Bearkats totaled 14 hits, led by leadoff batter Colt Atwood, who went 3 for 4.
UCA senior Ryan Angus, who threw 2/3 innings of relief, took the loss, SHSU reliever Brandon Bergen got the victory. Bears head coach Allen Gum got all six UCA seniors in the game Saturday, with Blake Payne and Andy Steinmetz also seeing action out of the bullpen.