by Nate Allen
FAYETTEVILLE – A 10th-inning wild pitch eked the nationally No. 5 SEC West-leading Arkansas Razorbacks, 2-1 past the University of Central Arkansas Bears Tuesday night before a stunned 10,333 packing the Arkansas Travelers’ Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.
Tuesday night Coach Nick Harlan’s underdog Atlantic Sun Conference Bears, now only 18-21 overall to Arkansas’ 32-9, held Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks to seven hits and two runs behind the superb pitching of starter Oliver Laufman, six hits and one run through seven innings, and hard-luck losing reliever Andrew Shoultz, just one hit and one run in the final 2 and 2/3 innings.
Shoultz’s full count 2-out wild pitch scored Robert Moore. Moore had singled with one out and was on third after a Cayden Wallace walk and a Michael Turner grounder forced out Wallace at second.
Arkansas countered with the third successive fine midweek start by Bryant’s Will McEntire, one run and three hits and a walk vs four strikeouts through six innings, and scoreless relief by Cabot’s Zack Morris, Evan Taylor and winner Heston Tole. Morris pitched 1 2-3 hitless inning with one walk. Taylor three a perfect 1 1-3 innings. Tole, retired three Bears consecutively after Mark Adamiak walked Noah Argenta, the lone Bear Adamiak faced, leading off the 10th. Former Razorback Trey Harris, pinch-running for Argenta, was on third when the inning ended, sac bunted to second and stealing third before Tole struck out RJ Pearson and retired Kolby Johnson on a fly to center.
Arkansas had taken a 1-0 lead off Laufman in its fifth after surviving UCA’s fifth. McEntire stranded Bears at first and third with one out striking out Tanner Leonard and getting Pearson on a grounder to third.
Braydon Webb singled leading off Arkansas’ fifth and advanced to second on Peyton Stovall’s groundout.
Dylan Leach, the 5 for 5 hit for the cycle, single, double, triple and two home runs Razorbacks star of the April 5 slugfest over UCA in Fayetteville, only got one hit Tuesday night in North Little Rock. But it was a big one, a single to left-center scoring Webb with the fifth-inning run.
UCA matched that run off McEntire in the sixth. Johnson doubled to left leading off. He scored via consecutive second to first and short to first groundouts by Connor Emmett and Hunter Hicks.
A UCA error and Webb’s single to center imperiled Laufman with Razorbacks at first and second starting the seventh.
Stovall bunted them over to second and third.
Laufman stranded them. Leach popped up to third and Robert Moore grounded out.
Taylor inherited a 2-out runners at first and second situation in the UCA eighth and got Hicks to pop out.
Shoultz survived first wild pitch after a leadoff walk to Greenbrier’s Cayden Wallace in the eighth striking out Jalen Battles for that inning’s final out.
Getting back into conference play this weekend, Arkansas, 12-6 in the SEC, hosts SEC West rival Ole Miss at Baum-Walker at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. Saturday night’s game will be televised by ESPN2 and Sunday’s noon game televised by ESPN.
UCA, leading the A-Sun at 12-6, travels to Nashville for A-Sun games vs. David Lipscomb University at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.