Photo Courtesy: UCA Athletics (Josh Goff)
CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -- The University of Central Arkansas Bears will put their 18-2 home record on the line when they host the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in a three-game Southland Conference series this weekend.
The Bears (31-11, 10-8) will open at 6 p.m. Friday against the Lions (28-17, 11-7). SLU is in third place in the league and UCA is in a four-way tie for fourth with nine games remaining.
UCA has won its past five SLC series, most recently taking two of three games from McNeese State in Lake Charles last weekend. The Bears are home for the next two series before finishing the regular season at Sam Houston State on May 16-18.
The Bears continue to win by manufacturing runs. UCA leads the nation in walks with 269 and is second in sacrifice bunts (66) and on-base percentage (.421) and fourth in hit by pitch (94). UCA's starting pitching has also been tough as seniors Caleb McClanahan and Jeffery Enloe are a combined 15-6 with a combined 1.85 earned-run average.
McClananah, the SLC Pitcher of the Week after throwing a complete-game four-hitter at McNeese last Friday, is 8-3 with a league-leading 1.57 ERA. Enloe, who has pitched three complete games in his last four outings _ two in extra innings _ is 7-3 with a 2.13 ERA. He went 10 innings in last Saturday's 6-4, 11-inning victory over the Cowboys.
UCA's 31 victories is the most since moving to NCAA Division I in 2007. The most conference victories for the Bears is 16 last season when they made their first trip to the SLC Tournament.
The Bears currently lead the league in pitching with a team ERA of 2.55. UCA is second in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings, at just 1.98.
Senior catcher Michael Marietta, a two-time SLC Hitter of the Week, is first in the league in RBI (43), while senior Blake Marchal and junior Jonathan Davis are tied for first in stole bases (18). Davis is tied for first in triples (4) and senior Forrestt Allday is second in runs scored (41) and on-base percentage (.500) and third in walks (33).
McClanahan's eight victories is the most in the league and he and Enloe are tied for the league lead with four complete games each. McClanahan's Pitcher of the Week honor this week was UCA's ninth of the season, easily outdistancing second-place Oral Roberts with three.
Friday's series opener is set for 6 p.m. at Bear Stadium. Saturday's game will start at 6:30 to accommodate graduation ceremonies at the adjacent Farris Center, with Sunday's finale set for 1 p.m.