CONWAY, Ark. — The Southeastern Louisiana baseball team advanced to its third consecutive championship game after a 7-3 come-from-behind win against Northwestern State at the Southland Conference tournament at Bear Stadium on Friday.
Southeastern will face Central Arkansas, an 8-6 winner over McNeese State. UCA won its eighth consecutive Southland tournament game to create a rematch of last year’s championship between the Bears and Southeastern Louisiana. UCA, which won last year’s game 4-0, will look to become the first conference team to successfully defend its tournament title since Sam Houston State won three consecutive from 2007-2009.
The championship game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Down 3-2 in the top of the ninth inning, the Southeastern scored five runs in its final at-bat. Southeastern notched two bases-loaded doubles, scoring two runs each time. Shortstop Kennon Menard recorded the first double to left center to give the Lions the 4-3 lead. Second baseman Jacob Williams roped the second double to right field for two insurance runs and centerfielder Jacob Seward added the final run on a RBI groundout.
The Lions scored the first two runs in the top half of the first inning when designated hitter Daniel Midyett tripled to right center, scoring catcher Jameson Fisher and right fielder Andrew Godbold. Fisher reached base on a double to left field while Godbold drew a walk.
Northwestern State put together a rally in the bottom of the fourth inning. Right fielder Nathan Lyons led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. Designated hitter Nick Heath followed with a single, stole second and third and scored on a ground out by shortstop Joel Atkinson.
The Demons added one more in the fifth inning when Cort Brinson scored on a wild pitch by Matt Pittari. The throw to Pittari from catcher Jameson Fisher was in time to get Brinson, but Brinson’s hard slide took Pittari’s glove off, giving the Demons the 3-2 lead.
Midyett, Menard and Williams all had two hits apiece. The Demons were led Edwin Gomez, who went 5-for-5. Heath went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Southeastern reliever Dylan Hills picked up the win, moving to 6-3 on the season. Hills pitched 1.1 innings and gave up only one hit while recording a strikeout.
Brandon Smith took the loss, falling to 3-3. Smith went 4.1 innings and gave up four runs, on two hits with one strikeout.
The championship game will be broadcast on ESPN3.com at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 8, McNEESE STATE 6: Central Arkansas advanced to its second consecutive championship game after McNeese got three runs in its first at-bat.
Central Arkansas responded with five runs. With the bases loaded, Doug Votolato knocked in the Bears’ first run on a fielder’s choice, scoring Justin Treece.
After a Votolato steal of second base, designated hitter Wesley Hoover singled to score Charles Deckard and Votolato. After Chris Townsend was hit by a pitch and a balk sent Hoover and Townsend to second and third, Nate Ferrell singled to give the Bears a 5-3 lead.
The Bears added two more runs in the fourth inning, but McNeese cut the Bears’ lead to two in the fifth, pushing two runs across to make the score 7-5.
UCA pushed its lead to 8-5 in the sixth inning after Zimmerle brought home Ferrell, who doubled to start the inning, on a sacrifice fly to deep right center.
The Cowboys added one more in the ninth.
Josh Markel (3-0) pitched 3.2 innings and gave up two runs on five hits and a walk while recording one strikeout. Connor McClain picked up his fourth save of the year, going four innings and striking out seven.
McNeese starter Michael Clemens (4-4) went 1.2 innings and gave up five runs on two hits and four walks with one strikeout.
NORTHWESTERN STATE 4, SAM HOUSTON STATE 1: Northwestern State Demons upset the tournament’s No. 1 seed behind a complete game from Steven Spann.
Spann (8-6) gave up one run on four hits and five walks while striking out six. The senior right-hander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning but his bid ended when Ryan O’Hearn hit a home run to right field with one out. Spann gave up three more hits while tossing 133 pitches.
O’Hearn led the Bearkats with a 1-for-4 showing with the solo shot.
Edwin Gomez, Caleb Dugas, Chase Daughdrill and Nick Heath accounted for all four Demons’ hits in the games, all of which were singles.
Sam Houston starter Jason Simms (5-3) picked up the loss, giving up four runs on three hits while striking out three in seven innings.
McNEESE STATE 7, TEXAS A&M-CC 5: McNeese State scored three runs in its final two at-bats to come from behind and defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in an elimination game.
The Cowboys trailed 5-4 heading into the seventh inning but tied the game after Jackson Gooch, who reached base after being hit by a pitch, came around to score on a double by pinch hitter Matt Williams.
McNeese took the lead in the next inning. Connor Lloyd led off with a single and scored on a triple by Andrew Guillotte. James Cantu singled to score Guillotte.
Reliever Cole Prejean (6-4) faced 14 batters and gave up two hits in four innings while striking out three.
The Cowboys were led by Lloyd, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Brandon Tierney led the Islanders, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a RBI.
Kyle Danford knocked in two runs, going 2-for-4.
Jacob Dorris was credited with the loss for the Islanders. Dorris pitched 1.2 innings, giving up two runs on four hits.