POLLOK, TX (KTRE) - Central Arkansas fought back from a two-run deficit by scoring six runs in its final three innings to claim a 7-3 victory over Stephen F. Austin Thursday in an elimination game at the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament at Constellation Field.
The win is the first Division I postseason win for the Bears since moving from Division II before the 2007 season. It also improved their season record to 35-20, tying the school record for victories.
UCA pulled within a 3-2 score with a solo run in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Marrietta drove in Ethan Harris with a single to left field.
Reliever Blake Clayton retired the Lumberjacks in order in the top of the seventh and then his offense took over in the bottom of the inning, totaling four runs to take control of the game.
Forrestt Allday got thing started with a one-out double. After Jonathan Davis was hit by pitch, Harris singled to short to load the bases for Blake Marchal. The second baseman gave the Bears the lead with a two-run double down the left-field line. Marietta's RBI single scored Marchal and a throwing error allowed Harris to cap the four-run inning. UCA plated another run in the eighth when Justin Treece scored from on a ground out by Davis.
Marchal drove in three runs and led a group of five Bears who had two hits, including Allday, Marietta, Scott Zimmerle and Treece. Marietta drove in two while Davis finished with an RBI and scored twice.
Clayton earned the win, tossing four scoreless innings in relief. He allowed two hits and struck out three in improving to 3-1. UCA starter Jeff Enloe allowed the three SFA runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking four. Brett Higginbotham, the Southland relief pitcher of the year, was tagged with the loss after he allowed three of the Bears' four runs in the seventh. He finishes the year 4-3.
SFA was led at the plate by Zach Benson, Hunter Dozier and Ricardo Sanchez, who each had two hits. Dozier drove in two runs, while the third run was plated by Mackenzie Handel.
No. 7 seed UCA awaits the loser of the winner's bracket game between No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 3 see Oral Roberts. SFA finishes its season with a 28-29 overall record.