Bears split ASUN doubleheader with Bisons

The University of Central Arkansas Bears used a four-run first inning to take down the Lipscomb Bisons 7-5 in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader at Bear Stadium. The Bisons returned the favor in the nightcap, scoring two runs in the ninth inning to pull out an 8-7 victory to win the series.

In the opener, on the heels of graduation ceremonies for eight UCA student-athletes, the Bears answered Lipscomb’s solo run in the top of the first with four in the bottom of the frame. Senior center fielder Drew Sturgeon had a two-run home run, senior A.J. Mendolia chipped in an RBI double and junior Casey Shipley blasted a solo home run for the 4-1 lead.

The Bears added another run in the third when Sturgeon and Bryce Cermenelli had consecutive base hits to start the inning, with Sturgeon eventually scoring on a wild pitch.

Lipscomb got one back in the sixth but UCA put up two more runs in the seventh with a two-run single up the middle by Mendolia. The Bisons scored three times in the eighth inning but sophomore Hunter Alexander finished it off for his sixth save in the past three weekend series and eighth of the season.

Mendolia, Sturgeon, Shipley and Zeb Allen had two hits each for the Bears, who out-hit the Bisons 11-9. Mendolia had a game-high three runs batted in. UCA starter Charlie Christensen went six innings, allowing just two runs, to earn his fifth victory.

In Game 2, UCA spotted Lipscomb a 4-0 lead after two innings before exploding for five runs in the third. Third baseman Mason King had a two-run triple down the right-field line, while Mendolia, Sturgeon and Cermenelli also accounted for runs in the inning.

LIpscomb went back in front with two runs in the fourth inning, but UCA re-took the lead again, scoring two in the seventh on an RBI triple by Sturgeon and an RBI groundout by Cermenelli. That lead lasted until the top of the ninth when the Bisons put the first two runners on base against UCA reliever Mason Griffin before he gave way to Alexander.

Consecutive sacrifice flies to center field gave the Bisons the lead.

The Bears got two base runners on in the bottom of the inning but could not score.

Sturgeon finished 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. Kade Seldomridge, Mendolia and Cermenelli all had two hits. UCA again out-hit Lipscomb 11-10.

The Bears finish out their home schedule this weekend, hosting Austin Peay at Bear Stadium.