In an intensely contested game overshadowed by a bench-clearing brawl in the 10th inning, the University of Central Arkansas Bears won their third straight extra-inning game against Arkansas-Little Rock, 5-4, in 11 innings at Bear Stadium.
The fracas began after UCA coach Allen Gum and UALR coach Scott Norwood went face-to-face and chest-to-chest following an overturned interference call in the 10th inning. During the encounter, Norwood was jostled and lost his balance and fell to the ground. Benches cleared and punches were thrown as the brawl progressed to the fence and dugout area in front of the stands. Both Gum and Norwood were ejected.
The Bears, who had lost five straight to the Trojans, got a lead-off walk in the 11th inning from Conway’s Tyler Langley, one of 11 base-on-balls issued by a combination of 10 UALR pitchers. Doug Votolato’s sacrifice bunt moved him to second base before Chris Townsend walked.
With one out, Nate Ferrell then hit a one-out fly ball to center field that the UALR center fielder dropped, allowing Langley to slide in with the winning run and end a game that lasted three hours and 50 minutes. A video of the brawl later went viral nationwide.
UCA junior Connor McClain of Conway pitched the final three innings for the Bears, allowing no hits, no runs and striking out four to improve to 4-1 on the season. The Bears made the most of their five hits and four hit by pitches, but left 11 runners on base, hitting into bases-loaded double plays to end both the third and fourth innings.
Trailing 4-3, UCA tied the game in the eighth inning as Nate Ferrell had an infield single and eventually scored on an error by UALR pitcher Ethan Schlechte. Pinch hitter Clint Dowdle added an RBI single that scored Justin Treece.
McClain struck out two in the ninth, and UCA left two runners on base in the frame to send it to extra innings. After McClain got the Trojans in order again in the 10th, UCA’s Dowdle was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the 10th, which brought on the fracas, a long delay and the eventual ejections.
Bo Stitch, Connor Gilmore and McClain held the Trojans to one hit, no runs and struck out six over the final 5 2/3 innings. Crumpton led the UALR offense, going 3-for-5. Tanner Rockwell (0-2), who started in right field, took the loss in two innings of relief.
UCA returns to Southland Conference action at home this weekend, hosting Southeastern Louisiana. The series begins at 6 p.m. Friday.
The Conway Lady Cats moved to 10-4 on the season with a 9-8 victory over Greenbrier on Wednesday night.
Conway scored all nine runs by the second inning. Mallory Kirkemier got the win, going 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and seven runs. Gabbi Armstrong came in to get the save, pitching 2 1/3 innings and giving up four hits.
“We hit the ball well at first, (Greenbrier pitcher Savannah) Baker found her rhythm on us and we didn’t adjust well at the plate for the rest of the game,” said coach Chata Hickey
“Mallory threw well, but got in a jam and Gabbi (a freshmen) came in to close it out. The Greenbrier/Conway game is always a high-pressure game, she did well coming in to a bad situation. We had a few errors defensive at the start, but we settled in and made some timely plays. Morgan Felts and Madi Shaw had some key plays to close out some tight innings.”
For Conway, Cheyenne Kuhn went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Kayla Hickey went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Junior Kaylee St. John finished the night going 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI, as the Lady Cats had nine hits.
The Lady Cats (10-4, 3-1) continue conference play Tuesday, April 8, at Mount St. Mary.
VS. ST. JOSEPH
The Mayflower Eagles (9-2) defeated the St. Joseph Bulldogs, 11-9, in a slugfest at Curtis Walker Park on Wednesday night.
St. Joseph took a 6-0 lead in the first as it sent 11 batters to the plate and took advantage of four walks and a three-run home run by Nash Nichols.
The Eagles chopped away at the lead in the second as they pounded out six hits with RBIs by Michael Post, Jordan Burns and Ryan Koonce.
Dylan Shrekenhofer lead off the bottom half of the second with a single, and Nichols singled to put runners at first and second. The Bulldogs scored on a Mayflower error to push the lead to 7-3. Mayflower got the run back in the third on a double by Tyler Godwin and another Koonce RBI to make it 7-4.
St. Joseph added two more in the bottom half on singles from Jacob Lampe, Owen Echols, Shrekenhofer and Britt Stroth to extend the lead to 9-4 after three innings. The Eagles would close the gap to 9-6 in the fourth on a two-run single by Tyler Herrin.
Mayflower added another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly RBI from Sewell.
The bottom of the fifth may have been the turning point of the game as Lampe led off with a walk, Echols singled and Shrekenhofer laid down a bunt to move the runners to scoring position at second and third. Nichols then connected with a deep fly to right field and Eagle outfielder Mason Quick made the catch and threw out Lampe at home.
The Eagles tied the game at 9 in the 6th on RBIs from Trey Bradley and Godwin and then retired the Bulldogs in order in the bottom half.
Mayflower took the lead for the first time at 11-9 in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from Burns and a triple from Drew Duncan.
Godwin struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win for Mayflower.
Godwin recorded the win for Mayflower and Dylan Shrekenhofer was tagged with the loss. St Joe was led at the plate by Shrekenhofer who went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Lampe, Echols, Cole Schafers and Nichols also had two hits each for the Bulldogs. Koonce went 3-for-4. Post, Bradley, Burns and Godwin each had two hits for the Eagles.
Mayflower coach Joe Allbritton said, “St. Joe has a good team, and we spotted them six early runs. Our kids never quit and just kept hacking away. If you like offense, this was a good game to watch.”
“I hate losing, but this was a good learning experience for us,” said St. Joseph coach Luke Davis.
“Mayflower is a good team. They made all the plays to fight back and we couldn’t hold on. This game should make us better.”
In JV action, Mayflower took a 3-0 victory with Devon Dycus picking up the win for the Eagles.
In a game at Tulsa, 16th-ranked Tulsa University hit four home runs Wednesday night on the way to a 10-2 softball victory over the University of Central Arkansas.
Tulsa (34-3) hit three of the home runs in the third inning.
Sam Forrest was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for UCA (17-22). UCA returns to SLC play this weekend, heading to Lake Charles, La., to take on McNeese State.