Bears push defending champ Tigers before falling 4-3

BATON ROUGE, La. —  The University of Central Arkansas Bears kept it close with the defending national champions for the second time in three days before falling to the LSU Tigers 4-3 on Monday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.

Gavin Alveti

The Tigers (4-0) had beaten VMI 27-5 on Sunday afternoon, but the combination of Bryce Parlin and Gavin Alveti held the reigning NCAA champions to just seven hits Monday. The Bears also finished with seven hits, with center fielder Drew Sturgeon, catcher Casey Shipley and second baseman Tanner Leonard getting two apiece.

Parlin, a sophomore right-hander from Bentonville, started and allowed 5 hits and 4 runs over the first 2.2 innings while striking out three in his second appearance of the weekend. Alveti, a sophomore from Searcy (Harding Academy) came on for his second appearance and tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out six. The Tigers, who had 27 hits the previous day against VMI, took a 3-0 lead in the first but UCA got one back in the third inning when junior second baseman Tanner Leonard led off with a base hit and went to second on an error. A sacrifice by Colton Sagely moved him to third and he scored on a wild pitch.

LSU made it a 4-1 lead with a lead-off home run by Jared Jones in the third. UCA picked up another run in the sixth on just one hit. Casey Shipley reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a wild pitch. Sturgeon had an infield single to send Sagely to third before pinch hitter Jagger Schattle greeted LSU reliever Jake Primeaux with a RBI ground out to close the gap to 4-2.

In the eighth, Shipley singled to left to open the inning, advanced to second on another wild pitch and scored on Zeb Allen’s two-out base hit. Alveti worked out of a two-base runner jam in the bottom of the eighth, getting a double play, to give the Bears one last chance.

LSU junior Fidel Ulloa, the Tigers’ sixth pitcher on the day, got the Bears in order in the ninth.

In the two games against LSU, UCA was only outscored 6-3 and out-hit 13-12. 

UCA has its home opener this weekend at 3 p.m. Friday when Southern Illinois comes to Conway for a three-game non-conference series. Series game times are 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Bear Stadium.