Bears beat Trojans 4-2 in 1-40 Showdown

CONWAY, Ark. _ The University of Central Arkansas Bears wrapped up the “Governor’s I-40 Showdown” competition in style Tuesday night with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over the Little Rock Trojans at Bear Stadium.

The Bears (10-16), coming off a 10-day layoff, finished the in-state competition with the Trojans (15-14) with a 23-15 lead to win the title for the second time in as many years. The 2020 competition had no winner because of incomplete seasons due to the pandemic.

In a game that featured 17 pitchers _ eight for the Trojans and nine for the Bears _ UCA fell behind 2-0 in the second inning but rallied with a three-run fifth and never trailed again. After senior Mark Moyer tossed a six-pitch top of the fifth to earn the victory, UCA turned two hits into three runs, including a two-run single up the middle by junior right fielder Connor Emmet.

For good measure, sophomore center fielder Kolby Johnson launched a long home run, his second of the year, over the deck in left center in the seventh inning to give the Bears a 4-2 cushion. The Trojans, who out-hit the Bears 8-5, left two runners on base in both the eighth and ninth innings but never scored again. UCA freshman Tyler Cleveland pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, striking out two and allowing one hit for his fifth save of the season.

The Bears went with a pitcher an inning for the first five frames, while Little Rock starter Luke Wallner tossed three scoreless innings to begin the game. From there, no Trojan pitcher lasted more than 1 1/3 innings, with senior left hander Cal Beardsley, the fourth of the game, taking the loss.

Little Rock scored twice in the second inning off two hits and a UCA throwing error. The Bears did not get their first hit until the fourth inning, a Emmet single to left center to lead off the inning. However, UCA stranded the bases loaded in the inning, and left nine runners on for the game. In the fifth, the Bears faced a quartet of Little Rock pitchers, with Christian Brasher leading off with a walk. After a strikeout, Ramon Vingochea also walked and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.

Emmet’s two-run base hit tied the game at 2-2. Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice for the second out and promptly stole second. Beau Orlando followed with another walk before Hunter Hicks got a base hit to load the bases. Second baseman Benny Ayala was hit by pitch by reliever Reese Lansville to give the Bears the lead for good at 3-2.

Emmet finished 2 for 5 with 2 runs batted in, while Hicks was 2 for 4. Noah Dickerson went 3 for 4 and John Michael Russ 2 for 4 for the Trojans.

UCA returns to Southland Conference action this weekend on the road at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Games times are 6 p.m. Friday, 1;30 and 5:30 on Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday at Chapman Field.

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