Righthander Connor Gilmore gave the University of Central Arkansas Bears their second straight complete game Thursday night in the Southland Conference baseball a the Bears parlayed that with an 11-hit attack for an 11-3 victory over McNeese State at Bear Stadium.
The victory, coupled with Southeastern Louisiana’s 1-0 victory over top-seeded Sam Houston State, means the Bears (31-21) and the Lions are the only unbeaten teams in the tournament .
If UCA wins Friday night, it will be guaranteed a spot in the championship round Saturday and would have to lose twice to be denied the title, which carries with it an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern State, which will play Southeastern Louisiana at 4 p.m. Friday, pulled a surprise Friday morning by eliminating top seed Sam Houston State, 4-1. The Bearkats will now have to wait and see if their season resume is good enough for an at-large NCAA bid.
McNeese State takes on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in an elimination game at noon Friday. The winner of that game plays UCA at 7 p.m.
Gilmore scattered five hits and the Bears took command for good with two runs in the third and five in the fourth.
Chris Townsend was 2 for 3 with 2 runs and two RBI. Scott Zimmerle had two hits and three RBI. Wesley Hoover scored three runs. Doug Votolato was 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI.
The Bears have now won seven games in a row in Southland Conference competition, dating back to last year’s title run.