29 Mar 2023 Bare literally walks off Tulsa, Bears win
CONWAY, Ark. – Bases loaded, two outs in the seventh, and Colleen Bare walks off Tulsa with a walk on Tuesday. Coming back from down 4-0, the Bears scored five runs in the final two innings, including four in the seventh, to fend off the Golden Hurricane.
Central Arkansas improves to 21-8 on the season with the win, and have won seven of their last nine games. The Bears walked seven times against Tulsa, with three of them in the seventh to literally walk off the game.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows early, as the Golden Hurricane scored first on a double down the left line put a runner from first home. Tremere Harris nearly answered in the home half of the frame, reaching third on a single, a steal and a passed ball, but the Bears couldn’t bring her home.
Trouble continued in the second for Central Arkansas. The Golden Hurricane added another run on three-straight at bats, moving a runner to second and then home on a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt. Three batters later, another run was put home on an error by the Bears. Tulsa increased its lead to 4-0 on the next at bat on a passed ball.
Central Arkansas continued to struggle at the plate until the sixth inning, seemingly unable to find a gap to put the ball. The Bears went three up, three down in the third, fourth and fifth, and each at bat became a little more critical than the last. Finally, in the sixth inning, the Bears found some life. Kylie Griffin walked to get on base, and was moved to third by a Morgan Nelson single to right field. Erin Michael came in to pinch run for Nelson, and moved to third on a wild pitch that scored Griffin, finally putting the Bears on the scoreboard.
Then in the seventh, things got very, very interesting. Down to their final three outs, the Bears started moving again; McKayla Betts reached on a fielding error, gutting it out and sprinting to force the Golden Hurricane into a mistake. Josie Willingham hit a single, moving Betts to second. Jenna Wildeman moved the pair with a sacrifice bunt, putting runners in scoring position with one out, and bringing the tying run to the plate. Harris scored Betts with a single to left field, narrowing the gap to two runs and putting the go-ahead at the plate. Griffin drove in Willingham on a single up the middle, narrowly clearing the shin of the Tulsa pitcher to cut the lead to one.
The Golden Hurricane changed pitchers with the score 4-3 and one out recorded. Harris scored on the next at bat, as the new pitcher threw a wild pitch to even the score and put Griffin on third. Madi Young walked on four-straight balls to put runners on the corners. Two batters later, with two outs, Mary Kate Brown loaded the bases with another walk, putting freshman Bare at the plate in perhaps the biggest plate appearance of her young career. The Pickerington, Ohio native strode to the plate with four walks to her name, determined to make the Tulsa pitcher give her a good pitch. Instead, the Golden Hurricane pitcher threw four-straight balls to send Bare to first and walk Griffin in for the game-winning run.
Central Arkansas defeated the Golden Hurricane for the second-straight time, downing Tulsa last year in Oklahoma 9-1. This one, albeit in slightly different fashion, showed just another way the Bears can earn wins. It marked the second walk-off of the season for the Bears, who previously won on a Willingham home run against Missouri State in the home opener.
The Bears now look ahead to the weekend, heading back on the road to take on Jacksonville in an ASUN series. First pitch on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.