SUGAR LAND, Texas – Central Arkansas is heading to the championship game of the Southland Conference baseball tournament for the first time after beating Oral Roberts 11-3 Saturday morning at Constellation Field.
The No. 7 seed Bears will face either No. 5 seed Lamar or No. 4 seed Southeastern Louisiana in the championship game. The championship game will be played at 5 p.m. and be broadcast exclusively on ESPN3.
The winner gets an automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs. It would mark the first national baseball postseason appearance for the Bears since playing in the 1959 NAIA tournament.
The Bears (38-20) jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first three innings and made it stand up the rest of the way.
"It’s great to see the guys that work so hard throughout the year and good things come to those who work hard," said UCA coach Allen Gum. "Our guys work extremely hard. Good guys have good chemistry and camaraderie, they like each other and they play hard.”
In the title game, the Bears will be playing for the seventh time in four days.
“Our guys are pretty strong," said Gum. "I could tell we were getting a little tired late, but we get to go back and get something to eat and change clothes. I think at this point that everyone is a little bit tired and everybody’s legs are a little bit down, but when you grab that heart and that soul, we’ll see what happens.”
Caleb McClanahan took the hill for the Bears on only two days of rest. He gave up two runs in his first two innings and didn’t allow the third until the sixth inning, a sacrifice fly by Williams. Only two of the runs were earned though he didn’t walk a batter and struck out five while allowing nine hits to win his 10th game of the season (10-5). Jon Rand pitched three scoreless innings in relief, picking up his first save of the year.
The Bears, who have won four in a row after losing their tournament opener, also totaled 11 hits in the game, getting two hits apiece from Ethan Harris, Michael Marietta, Garrett Brown and Chris Townsend. Davis drove in three runs and has nine RBI for the tournament. Harris and Marietta also drove in a pair of runs against ORU.
ORU ended its season with a 26-31 record and saw its streak of 15 consecutive conference tournament titles come to an end with the loss. The Golden Eagles concluded their first season in the Southland Conference.