CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -
The University of Central Arkansas Bears completed a Southland Conference sweep of preseason favorite and 16th-ranked Sam Houston State on Sunday, winning 6-4 behind their third strong starting pitching performance of the weekend.
Junior Connor McClain of Conway went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and three runs. Senior Scott Zimmerle moved from first base to the mound for the final two innings, allowing just one hit to earn his first save of the season. The Bears used only two relief pitchers in the three-game series as the UCA starters threw 24 2/3 of the 27 innings.
The Bears (14-8, 4-2) won their fifth straight game and handed the Bearkats (16-8, 3-3) their first SLC sweep since the 2011 season. UCA has now won six of its last seven games while SHSU has dropped four straight.
UCA posted three-run innings in both the second and fifth innings, then survived as SHSU scored three in the seventh and another in the eighth before Zimmerle ended the threat by getting a ground out and a fly ball for the final two outs of the inning. He then pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
In the bottom of the second, UCA's Nate Ferrell doubled down the right-field line and Justin Treece singled to left. Zimmerle's bunt moved both runners over and center fielder Nick Rougeau singled up the middle to drive in two runs. Later in the inning, Wesley Hoover drew a bases-loaded walk off SHSU starter Dirk Masters for a 3-0 lead.
Ferrell walked to start the fifth-inning rally and chase Masters. Treece greeted reliever Jason Simms with a base hit to right. Zimmerle then doubled to the gap in right center to score two more runs. Catcher Charles Deckard lined a pitch of SHSU pitcher Andrew Godail that turned into an RBI ground out to make it 6-0.
Zimmerle finished 1 for 3 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Ferrell and Treece both had two hits and scored twice, while Rougeau had a pair of RBI. SHSU first baseman Ryan O'Hearn was the only Bearkat with multiple hits, while right fielder Hayden Simerly had a two-run home run in the seventh.
UCA is off until next weekend's series at Stephen F. Austin.