(Courtesy: Bradley Widding)
CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) - The University of Central Arkansas Bears put together a furious ninth-inning rally Saturday that fell just short in a 6-4 loss to the Missouri State Bears at Bear Stadium.
The Bears (0-2) trailed the entire game and were behind 6-2 going into their final at-bat. Senior shortstop Justin Treece hit a lead-off singled through the left side to start the rally against MSU reliever Bryan Young. Chris Townsend pinch hit and drew a walk before Wesley Hoover popped out to third base for the first out of the inning.
Senior center fielder Doug Votolato loaded the bases with a single to left field, bringing in Tyler Burgess to pitch for the visiting Bears. Junior first baseman Nate Ferrell hit a sharp line drive to second base that got in the setting sun and glanced off the glove of Eric Cheray to score Treece. A throwing error on the same play by first baseman Conor Smith allowed Townsend to score and close the gap to 6-4.
Pinch hitter Brandon Montalvo walked, ending the day for Burgess, but MSU's Adam Anawalt came on and got junior Austin White to ground into a game-ending double play on his first pitch to earn the save.
MSU (2-0) out-hit UCA by a wide margin for the second consecutive day, finishing with 15 hits to UCA's 6. The Bears' defense, which made five errors in Friday's season-opener, did not commit an error on Saturday. Sophomore right fielder Tyler Langley of Conway had two of UCA's hits, including a solo home run to left field in the eighth inning. Ferrell had a pair of RBI and Matt Anderson added another on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.
Young (1-0) picked up the win for the Bears, who had three players with three hits each. Dylan Becker was 3 for 4, while Smith and Aaron Meyer were both 3 for 5. UCA starter Connor McClain, a junior from Conway, got the loss, going 4.2 innings, alllowing 7 hits, 4 walks and 5 earned runs.
A trio of UCA relievers, Chris Caudle, Scott Zimmerle and Bo Stitch, shut out MSU over the final three innings.