Bears beat Bulldogs to force Monday title game

The Central Arkansas Bears faced off with the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the fifth time this season on Sunday night, and for the third time, they beat the Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field. The Bears took advantage of four Mississippi State errors and used their second complete game of the day to take down the Bulldogs by a score of 5-2.

After both teams failed to plate a run in the first inning, Mississippi State took an early lead in the top half of the second. After a fly out and a ground out started the inning, third baseman Sam Frost singled to left field. He stole second and moved to third on a throwing error on the play. Catcher Nick Ammirati drew a walk and left fielder Demarcus Henderson laced a single to right field, scoring Frost and giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Central Arkansas starter Ethan McKinzie got a line out to short to end the frame.

Central Arkansas struck back in the bottom half of the third, taking advantage of a pair of throwing errors by Bulldog shortstop Adam Frazier to take a 2-1 lead. Third baseman Garrett Brown led off the inning with a single to short, bringing shortstop Justin Treece to the plate. Treece hit a grounder just passed the outstretched glove of Mississippi State third baseman Sam Frost but Frazier fielded the ball deep in the hole. He attempted to force out Brown at second but overthrew the second base bag, giving the Bears runners on first and third with no outs. Following a pop up on the infield, right fielder Forrestt Allday drew a walk to load the bases for center fielder Jonathan Davis. Davis hit a grounder to Frazier, who stepped on second and fired low and wide to first base. Brown scored from third and Treece ran home from second, giving the Bears the lead.

Both teams were scoreless through the fourth and fifth inning, but Mississippi State got an equalizer in the top of the sixth. Second baseman Brett Pirtle led off the inning by drawing a walk and advanced to second on a swinging bunt by first baseman Wes Rea. Following a line out to second base, Frost ripped a single up the middle, scoring Pirtle from second to even the score at 2-2. A ground out to the shortstop ended the inning.

Central Arkansas wasted no time in responding, plating three runs in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead. Left fielder Ethan Harris got the inning started with a single through the right side and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before catcher Michael Marietta moved him to third with a single to center field. First baseman Scott Zimmerle drove in Harris with another single to center to give the Bears a 3-2 lead. A fly out to right brought Treece to the plate and he one-hopped the wall in left field for a two-run double. Marietta scored from second and Zimmerle scored all the way from first, pushing the Central Arkansas lead to 5-2.

Those three insurance runs would prove to be all that Central Arkansas would need, as McKinzie (4-2) would allow just one hit over the game's final three innings to give the Bears their second complete game of the day. The senior from Gravette, Arkansas picked up the first complete game of his career, scattering a pair of runs on four hits. He walked five and struck out one.

Trevor Fitts got the start for the Bulldogs, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing two runs on just one hit. He issued two walks and got one strikeout. Myles Gentry (4-1) took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk in 3.1 innings of work. Will Cox was the most effective Mississippi State pitcher on the day, allowing just one base runner in two innings while string out two.

The win means that the Bears and Bulldogs will play their sixth game of the season tomorrow night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm.