On a chilly evening at Bear Stadium, the Arkansas State baseball team dropped a 5-3 decision at Central Arkansas to open an eight-game road swing.
The Red Wolves (10-20) led through the first six-and-a-half innings, but a three-run seventh plagued by two errors gave the Bears (11-20) the lead with UCA closer Tyler Cleveland pitching the final six outs to end the contest.
A-State’s 2-3-4 slots in the lineup – Liam Hicks, Ben Klutts and Tyler Duncan – each tallied two hits apiece, with Hicks reaching base three times in five plate appearances.
Starter Brandon Anderson pitched the first three innings, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out two. Max Charlton then struck out four in three innings of relief work, allowing an unearned run on three hits. Josh Albat took the loss in just one-third of an inning, allowing three runs (two earned) on a pair of hits.
Coby Potvin, Kolby Johnson and RJ Pearson recorded two-hit outings for the Bears, with Johnson also drawing two walks. Drew Sturgeon scored twice while Pearson drove in three of UCA’s five runs.
Andrew Shoultz tossed 2.0 innings of relief and earned the win before giving way to Cleveland in the eighth, who struck out four and allowed one hit in two innings to earn his sixth save of the year. UCA started Tyler Navarro, who pitched two innings before being lifted for Trent Gregson in the third.
UCA took a 1-0 lead in the second after Sturgeon reached on a one-out triple. Pearson then sent a single through the right side of the infield to drive in Sturgeon and give the Bears the early advantage.
Gregson took over for Navarro in the third and was greeted by three straight hits to start the inning. Hicks opened the frame by working the count and reaching on an opposite-field ground-rule double. A single by Klutts then put runners at the corners with nobody out before Duncan drove in Hicks with a base hit. Jaylon Deshazier then reached on a fielder’s choice to continue the inning with two down. He scored from first when Sturgeon dropped a fly ball to center off Sky-Lar Culver’s bat to give the Red Wolves a 2-1 lead.
A-State added an insurance run in the sixth after Drew Tipton reached second on a costly two-out error on the bunt attempt. Hicks then came up and slapped an opposite-field single into left to make it 3-1.
The Bears clawed back for a run in the sixth after Pearson advanced to second on a pair of A-State miscues. Connor Emmet then roped a two-out single into left to drive in Pearson and put the score at 3-2 after six.
In the seventh, UCA tied it up at three on an RBI groundout by pinch-hitter Beau Orlando, driving in Taylor Daniell. A two-run single by Pearson then scored Johnson and Sturgeon to give the Bears a 5-3 lead, which would hold up for the rest of the contest.
A-State continues its eight-game road stretch with a weekend Sun Belt Conference series at Texas State. First pitch of Friday’s series opener at Bobcat Ballpark in San Marcos is slated for 6 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+ while the radio broadcast of all three contests can be heard on 95.3 The Ticket.
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