Photo Courtesy: UCA Athletics (Josh Goff)
CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -- The University of Central Arkansas Bears will close out their home schedule this weekend with a Southland Conference series with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Bear Stadium.
UCA (32-14, 11-10) is one game behind SFA (25-24, 12-9) and sits in seventh place in the SLC standings with six league games to play. The top eight teams make the SLC Tournament, which is set for May 22-25 in Sugar Land, Texas.
The Bears enter the weekend with the top pitching staff in the conference _ sporting a 2.60 team earned-run average _ while the Lumberjacks field one of the top offensive teams with a .281 batting average. SFA shortstop Hunter Dozier is the No. 1 hitter in the league with a .404 average, while UCA's Forrestt Allday is second at .378.
UCA senior Caleb McClanahan has the best ERA in the SLC at 1.71 and is 8-4 overall with a league-best five complete games. The Bears' other weekend starters are senior Jeffery Enloe (7-4, 2.46) and Bryce Biggerstaff (4-2, 2.92). All three have been the SLC Pitcher of the Week at least once this season, with Biggerstaff claiming two awards.
The Bears have won five of seven SLC series this season, but are coming off a home series loss against Southeastern Louisiana. UCA salvaged the final game 2-1 last Sunday with Biggerstaff turning in a two-hit, seven-strikeout complete game.
UCA is 19-4 at home this season and has won a Division I-record 32 games overall. SFA owns a 14-5 lead over UCA in the overall series, and is 5-1 in games played in Conway. The Bears traveled to Nacogdoches, Texas the past two years to face the Lumberjacks.
The Bears finish the regular season next week with a non-conference game at UT Martin on Tuesday and the final SLC series at Sam Houston State beginning Thursday in Huntsville, Texas.
Game times this weekend are 6 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. for "Senior Day" on Sunday. The Bears will be saluting 10 seniors, including left fielder Ethan Harris (White Hall), second baseman Blake Marchal (La Porte, Texas), right fielder Forrestt Allday (Friendswood, Texas), third baseman Garrett Brown (Marlow, Okla.), catcher Michael Marietta (Oak View, Calif.) and pitchers Enloe (Gonzalez, La.), McClanahan (Wynne), Ethan McKinzie (Gravette), Clint Green (Little Rock) and John Kordsmeier (Conway).