HUNTSVILLE, Texas _ The No. 27 Sam Houston State Bearkats rallied with three runs in the eighth inning Saturday to down the University of Central Arkansas Bears 6-5 in the regular-season finale at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Southland Conference champion Bearkats (36-18, 20-7) swept the series and earned the top seed in next week's SLC Tournament that begins Wednesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas, UCA (34-19, 12-15) is the No. 7 seed and opens against No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at noon Wednesday.
The Bears never trailed until the eighth inning, scoring first in the first inning against SHSU starter Caleb Smith. Senior Forrestt Allday led off with an infield single, moved up on Jonathan Davis' sacrifice bunt and went to third on Blake Marchal's base hit. Allday scored on Ethan Harris' safety squeeze bunt for an early 1-0 lead.
UCA made it 2-0 in the second when Garrett Brown was hit by a pitch, moved to second on Justin Treece's sacrifice and came in on Allday's RBI single. The Bearkats tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning but UCA went back in front with a three-run sixth inning.
Logan Moon walked and advanced on a bunt by Garrett Brown. Justin Treece struck out but reached on a wild pitch. Allday was hit by a pitch and Davis drew a bases-loaded walk for a 3-2 lead. Marchal followed with a two-run single to left field, good for a 5-2 lead.
The Bearkats got one back in the seventh and in the eighth, SHSU put together a double, a triple, a hit by pitch and another double to tie the game at 5-5. A passed ball then scored the game winner.
Harris led off the ninth with a base hit before SHSU closer Jason Simms struck out both Michael Marietta and Logan Moon before Harris was thrown out trying to steal second. Simms (3-1) earned the winning with two innings of relief. Ethan McKinzie (3-2) got the loss, allowing two earned runs in his one inning of work.
UCA starter Bryce Biggerstaff left with a 5-2 lead, allowing two earned runs and nine hits, striking out two and walking none. SHSU's Smith allowed five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Steve East: UCA Media Relations