`Jacks Drop Series Finale With UCA, 8-4
March 30, 2014
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack baseball team recorded a four-run fifth inning to tie the game from down 4-0, but could not hold the momentum, eventually falling 8-4 in the series conclusion with Central Arkansas on Sunday afternoon at Jaycees Field.
Senior Kyle Cross (0-4) was saddled with the loss, allowing all four runs to UCA (15-10, 5-4 SLC) after entering with the game tied. Cross came in for SFA (12-14, 4-5 SLC) to start the sixth inning in relief of starter Kevin Bishop, who took a no-decision.
Senior Brett Thornell and freshman Conner Fikes each recorded two hits to pace the `Jacks at the plate. Thornell finished 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored, while Fikes went 2-for-4 with two singles, a walk and run scored. Senior Mackenzie Handel finished 1-for-5 with a double and two RBI.
The Bears broke up the pitcher's duel with two runs in the top of the fourth, before adding two more in the fifth to stake themselves out front 4-0. Bishop had retired nine of his first ten batters faced, working around a single in the opening frame, to blank UCA entering the fourth. After a groundout to second, the Bears recorded consecutive hits, a single and double, to put two in scoring position.
With one out, it seemed as though Bishop was going to work his way out of the jam, striking out UCA's Wesley Hoover, but the Bears took advantage of a dropped third strike to load the bases on a passed ball. UCA scored the first run of the game on a sac fly one batter later, before tacking on one more on a single up the middle.
In the top of the fifth, the Bears again were able to benefit from a SFA miscue to score one on a throwing error in the infield, before adding their second run of the inning on a base hit to center field.
The `Jacks would respond however, with a four-spot in the bottom frame to tie the game 4-4. Freshman Nick Ramos led off with a single up the middle, before scoring on Thornell's double down the left field line one batter later. After Bear starter Connor McClain (3-1) recorded two outs, sophomore Matthew Dickey was able to plate Thornell on a single to left field and keep the inning alive. The two-out rally continued, as Fikes singled to center field and advanced to second on the throw in, before both he and Dickey scored on Handel's double down the right field line to tie it up headed into the sixth.
With one out and a runner on second in the top of the seventh, UCA threatened to retake the lead on a single through the right side, but senior Ricardo Sanchez came up throwing on the play and gunned down Doug Votolato at the plate. However, Chris Townsend, who hit the single and advanced to second on the throw home, came around one batter later on a single through the left side to give the Bears a 5-4 edge.
Senior Bryce Biggerstaff, who entered for UCA to start the bottom of the seventh, limited SFA to just one base runner in each of its final three trips to the plate to earn his first save of the season, as the Bears added three runs in the eighth to arrive at the 8-4 final.
The `Jacks will now embark on a four-game road swing, beginning at Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday, April 1. Following the midweek meeting with the Trojans, SFA will return to Southland Conference play with a weekend series at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.