UCA gets back to .500, dominates SHSU

UCA Bears sophomore pitcher Gavin Stone throws a pitch during game two of a doubleheader against the Sam Houston State University Bearkats at Bear Stadium April 19. Solid pitching helped secure a sweep of the Bearkats, the No. 1 team in the Southland Conference.

photo by Taylor Sone. 

The UCA Baseball team (20-20, 11-7 SLC) dominated the Sam Houston State Bearkats (22-15, 14-7 SLC) at Bear Stadium over the weekend, earning a clean sweep and limiting the first place team in the Southland Conference to just 4 runs for the series.

The Bears earned the series with two wins in the doubleheader April 19, winning 6-1 and 4-1 respectively. They earned the sweep April 20, winning 6-2. The victories marked the Bears’ first sweep of the season, and their fifth series win in six weeks of SLC play.

“We pitched really well, and we kept an extremely potent offense down for three days in a row,” head coach Allen Gum said. “We defended well, and we just played good baseball.”

UCA’s pitching staff managed to keep the Bearkats to single runs for both games of the doubleheader and a pair during the final game Saturday. Overall, the Bear’s pitching combined for 24 strikeouts and a 1.33 earned-run average for the series.

Senior pitcher Cody Davenport threw a complete game for the opener, earning nine strikeouts and allowing 1 run on four hits.

“He threw 72% first pitch strikes, when you do that, it gives you a chance to win,” Gum said. “Pretty much all weekend our first pitch strike percentage was really good.”

Davenport said that his high fastball worked well over the weekend, as well as his slider. He said preparation was essential to beat a team like SHSU.

“I think a lot of that is mindset; my mindset is to always get ahead of [the opponents], kind of keep them on their heels. If you get ahead of them, it makes your stuff a little bit better,” Davenport said.

During the second game, UCA and SHSU were scoreless for four innings, and then matched each other with 1 run in the fifth. The Bears ultimately took the lead off a 3-run homer by junior Josh Ragan in the seventh.

“They had been pitching [Ragan] really well, and they made one mistake on him and he took advantage of it,” Gum said.

Ragan said after going 0-3 at-bat for the game, it felt great to make a comeback and get the homer, especially against the caliber of pitching that SHSU has. He also said he hopes he and his teammates utilize the momentum from the sweep as they prepare for their next series.

“They’re No. 1 in the conference. This is big time for us. We just got to keep it rolling,” Ragan said.

The final game Saturday was another solid day for the Bears’ pitching staff, with junior Brad Verel and senior Conner Williams holding SHSU to 2 runs.

Offensively, the Bears picked up 4 runs in the first two innings of play and another 2 in the third and fifth innings respectively. Junior designated hitter Marco Navarro batted .500 for the game, with one RBI.

Gum said every game has to be played with the same level of intensity.

“We try to stay level. If it’s the first-place team, it doesn’t matter. If we pitch it well and play good defense, we got a chance to beat anybody,” Gum said.

 

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