NEW ORLEANS — The University of Central Arkansas baseball team, tied for ninth in the Southland Conference two weeks ago, have fought their way into the Southland Conference tournament.
The Bears (28-21, 16-13) defeated the University of New Orleans, 11-8, for their fifth straight victory to gain the eight-team tourney field as the seventh seed. The tourney will begin Wednesday in Conway.
The Bears got three hits each from senior Doug Votolato and sophomores Chris Townsend and Conway's Tyler Langley, and three RBI from Townsend, to down the Privateers (11-37, 2-27) for the second consecutive day. New Orleans actually outhit UCA 15-12 but a pair of pitchers allowed 11 earned runs. Connor McClain of Conway relieved Josh Markel with two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth and recorded the final out for his second save. Chris Caudle got the victory to improve top 7-4 in his first season with the Bears. Markel struck out five in three innings of relief. Townsend finished with three RBI and three runs scored, while Votolato also scored three times.
UCA’s 16 conference victories are the most since joining the SLC in 2007.
The Bears will open tournament play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bear Stadium.