UCA Bears Baseball Continues Quest for Conference Title

Courtesy UCA Department of Athletics

The UCA Bears baseball team and Golden Eagles will meet for a fifth time this season at 9 a.m. Saturday, playing to advance to the SLC Championship game.

SUGAR LAND, Texas – The University of Central Arkansas Bears walked off with another victory  Friday in their second game of the day, getting an RBI single from Jonathan Davis to score Garrett Brown in a 6-5 victory over Oral Roberts in their third straight elimination game at the Southland Conference Tournament.

The resilient UCA Bears (37-20), down 4-0 after four innings, put together another rally, scoring three runs in the fifth and adding single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. After ORU (25-31) tied it at 5-5 in the eighth, the Bears opened the ninth with a single by senior third baseman Garrett Brown. A sacrifice bunt by Justin Treece moved him to second and Forrestt Allday drew a two-out intentional walk.

Reliever Nathan Garza came on for the Golden Eagles and, on a 2-2 count, Davis hit a sharp single to left field and Brown slid home under a high throw to win it.  Davis, a junior center fielder from Camden, had a grand slam in UCA’s earlier 8-1 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi that kept its tournament run alive.

The Bears have now won three consecutive games after losing their tournament opener on Wednesday. UCA has also won a school record 37 games this season, with at least one more to play.

“I think it just shows the character of our team,” said Brown, who finished 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored. “We’ve been down and battled adversity all year, and we just keep fighting until the end. A lot of us, we know we might not ever get to play again, so we keep fighting for each other.

“We’ve been battling it all year. We haven’t had timely hits when we needed them. And I think now everything is falling through at the right time. That’s just baseball.”

JD diving catch WEB

The Golden Eagles, who swept the season series in Tulsa back in March, got a run in the first inning off UCA starter Ethan McKinzie with a walk, a single and a ground out. ORU put up two more unearned runs in the second inning, starting with a bunt on which the Bears commited a pair of errors, allowing the first run to score. UCA threw the ball away on the initial bunt, then second baseman Blake Marchal fumbled the ball into the stands after retrieving it, letting the other run cross the plate.

ORU made it 4-0 in the fourth before UCA put a number up on the scoreboard. Davis reached on a dropped fly ball to open the frame, going all the way to third before Ethan Harris drove him in with a double to left center. Brown added an RBI single to score Harris and Justin Treece did the same for Scott Zimmerle to close the gap to  4-3.

An RBI single by catcher Michael Marietta tied it at 4-4 in the sixth before the Bears took their first lead in the seventh on Forrestt Allday’s sacrifice fly. ORU had a double by Nate Goro and an RBI single by Joey Migliaccio to tie it at 5-5, setting up UCA’s late heroics.

“He (Davis) had swung at two bad pitches, but he just kept fighting, kept working,” said UCA head coach Allen Gum. “He just found a hole. That’s what we did today. We didn’t stop, we didn’t quit. We just had a lot of heart, a lot of soul. That’s really all I can say, our guys just fought hard to the end.”

UCA finished with 11 hits, with Treece and Marietta following Brown with two each. UCA senior Clint Green (4-2) got the victory with 3 2/3 innings of relief, allowing just 3 hits and 1 earned run. Davis had just one hit but it was just as big as his grand slam earlier in the day.

The Bears and Golden Eagles will meet for a fifth time this season at 9 a.m. Saturday, playing to advance to the SLC Championship game.

UCA Bears Baseball senior Garrett Brown celebrates victory

UCA Bears Baseball senior Garrett Brown celebrates victory.