CONWAY, Ark. _ It did not come as easy as the first two games of the series, but the University of Central Arkansas Bears rallied late for a 6-5 victory in 12 innings over the Murray State Thoroughbreds on Sunday afternoon at Bear Stadium.
The Bears (3-0), who won the first two games by scores of 10-1 and 13-1, trailed 5-2 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday but put up three runs in the frame and left the bases loaded, sending it to extra innings. UCA and Murray State went 17 innings in their series opener last season, with MSU winning by the same 6-5 score.
Neither team scored in the 10th or 11th innings, although the Thoroughbreds left runners on base in all three extra innings. UCA senior catcher Michael Marietta opened the 12th with a double into the left-center gap. Ethan Harris grounded out, moving Marietta to third. A wild pitch by MSU reliever Sheldon Baxter allowed Marietta to score and end the 3:27 minute game.
The Bears had only 10 hits but took advantage of 10 walks by three Murray State pitchers. For the series, UCA drew 30 walks and were hit by pitches seven times. Sophomore Connor McClain got the final out of the 12th inning, striking out Noah Zipko, to earn the victory for UCA.
In the ninth inning, the Bears had one hit and one error but scored three runs to tie it. Kraig Kelley, 3 for 4 on the day, led off with a walk, and pinch hitter Garrett Brown followed with another. Nick Rougeau was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. After a pitching change, senior right fielder Forrestt Allday doubled to the fence in left center to score two runs.
A sacrifice fly by second baseman Blake Marchal tied it at 5-5 but Allday was thrown out at home and Doug Votolato struck out for the final two outs, sending it to the 10th.
The Thoroughbreds took their first lead of the series with a run in the third inning, which UCA answered in the bottom of the inning. After UCA went ahead 2-1 in the fifth on Jonathan Davis' RBI single to shortstop, MSU scored twice in the sixth for a 3-2 advantage.
They added single runs in the eighth andd ninth, but left the bases loaded in the ninth as UCA senior Clint Green came on and got Taylor Matthews to fly out for the final out.
Allday was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and was the only other UCA player with multiple hits. Mathews went 4 for 6 for MSU,while Dylan Wheeler was 3 for 5 as the Thoroughbreds totaled 15 hits against seven UCA pitchers.
The Bears play at Top 5-ranked Vanderbilt on Wednesday afternoon in Nashville.
Steve East: Media Relations