Bears knock off Trojans in I-40 showdown

LITTLE ROCK — The University of Central Arkansas Bears scored on the second pitch of the game and never trailed Tuesday night in beating the Little Rock Trojans 6-3 in the final game of the “Governor’s I-40 Showdown” at Gary Hogan Field.

Photo by Maddie Malmstrom

UCA opened the game with a Zeb Allen triple on the first pitch and followed that with an RBI groundout by A.J. Mendolia on the second pitch to take a 1-0 lead. The Bears added two more runs in the second inning along with three more in the fourth to jump out to a comfortable 6-1 lead.

After that, the Bears used their bullpen to hold off the Trojans, who are leading the Ohio Valley Conference. Two Bears made their pitching debuts, including designated hitter/first baseman Jagger Schattle and redshirt freshman right-hander Connor Johnson. Both pitched a scoreless inning in their debuts.

The Bears issued nine walks and hit four batters but the Trojans stranded a whopping 18 runners on base, including the bases loaded four times. One of those times was the bottom of the ninth before graduate right-hander Mason Griffin came on to strike out a pair of Trojans to earn his second save of the season.

Allen, a freshman from Fort Smith, added his second triple and his team-high fourth of the season, in his second at-bat. He finished 2 for 4 with two runs batted in.

Kade Seldomridge had an RBI double and Allen added an RBI triple in the second inning as the Bears stretched their lead to 3-0 and ended the day for Little Rock starter Malcolm Brown. After Little Rock got one run back in the third, UCA used two hits and an error to score three times in the fourth. A.J. Mendolia’s RBI single and an error scored Seldomridge and Allen added a sacrifice fly. Senior Drew Sturgeon made it 6-1 with an infield single.

A combination of eight UCA pitchers held the Trojans to six hits and struck out 12. Sophomore Gavin Alveti got the start and the victory, allowing 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 3 in 3.0 innings. Sturgeon went 2 for 4 and Mendolia had two RBI.

UCA has a short turnaround for their final ASUN series of the season. They will travel to DeLand, Fla., on Wednesday to take on the Stetson Hatters beginning Thursday at 5:30 (CST) p.m.