Chris Murray: UCA Bears Take Series in Starkville; Hogs Bounce Back at Home

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The Central Arkansas Bears sent shockwaves across the college baseball landscape in the South, taking a series win from the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville.

The UCA Bears (14-2) dropped Friday’s series opener, 4-2. The Bears blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth on Saturday, but rebounded to win in 10 innings. On Sunday, Bryce Biggerstaff tossed a complete game as UCA beat MSU 7-3 before more than 7,000 Bulldogs fans. It was Biggerstaff who grabbed the spotlight two weeks earlier by throwing a no-hitter against Jackson State.

On Sunday, Michael Marietta went 3-for-4, while Blake Marchal added two RBI and two runs scored. Marietta and Marchal, along with Ethan Harris and Scott Zimmerle had two hits apiece on Saturday, to back starter Jeffery Enloe, who pitched into the sixth and allowed three runs.

Mississippi State came into the series at 15-0 and ranked in the top 5 nationally, one of the hottest teams in the country. UCA had already tallied wins over Kansas and Wichita State, but both of those were at home. To take two wins at an SEC ballpark against a program with a rich history like MSU, this weekend has to rank highly in UCA baseball history.

The Bears host UA-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, and then travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., this weekend before opening Southland Conference play March 22 against Oral Roberts in Tulsa.

UCA was picked fifth in the Southland’s preseason poll, behind Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, McNeese State, Northwestern State and Nicholls State. It’s way too early to tell, but judging from their hot start, the Bears surely can hope to contend for the Southland title and NCAA tournament bid.

Arkansas completed a four-game sweep of San Diego State, taking both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday.

The Razorbacks’ pitching was stellar, as always, allowing six total runs in the four games. Freshman Trey Killian stood out the most, hurling seven no-hit innings on Saturday to help coach Dave Van Horn to his 1000th career win. Randall Fant and Colin Poche each had solid, yet pitch-count shortened, starts, and nearly every arm out of the bullpen was effective.

Ryne Stanek has yet to put it all together in any of his starts this season, and once he shows the kind of stuff that has made him a projected first-round pick, the staff will be even deeper.

Joe Serrano blasted a walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth on Friday, and Tyler Spoon added his third longball of the season on Saturday when the Hogs erupted for eight runs on 12 hits. In the other three games, though, Arkansas struggled to score.

Dominic Ficociello did not play in the four games with the Aztecs, and his oblique injury seems to make his outlook murky. Without his presence, Arkansas will have to rely even more on manufacturing runs. The Hogs did a better job of that this weekend, but have yet to prove they can against tougher competition. They begin SEC play next weekend by hosting Ole Miss, following midweek games with Alabama A&M.

Baseball jam: This is another cut from The Baseball Project, which was featured here previously. This time they are joined by The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn for “Don’t Call Them Twinkies,” railing against the derisive nickname for Finn’s hometown Minnesota Twins. Finn and The Hold Steady have been cranking out beer-soaked, Beat poetry rock going on a decade, and this fits nicely in his canon.

Coaches, SIDs, baseball fans from around the state: got a tip or interesting note? Pass it on to

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