Top seed Sam Houston State downs No. 5 Central Arkansas in SLC elimination game

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SUGARLAND, Texas -- Sam Houston State survived their first game of the elimination bracket with a 4-2 win over No. 5 Central Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon. A four-run first and a strong outing from right-hander Hayden Wesneski was enough to send the Bears home and secure the top seed’s spot in tomorrow’s bracket.

The Bearkats did not look the part of the sluggish upset-prone side that dropped its opening-round matchup to No. 8 New Orleans yesterday. A five-hit first inning paved the way for an early 4-0 lead, led by three straight RBI singles with two outs.

Central Arkansas got on the board with a Keaton Presley RBI to score Josh Somdecerff at the bottom of the third. Cody Davenport kept the Bearkats off the board from the mound for five straight innings, striking out four. UCA halved the lead at the bottom of the fifth with a ground out RBI to make it a 4-2 game.

A rain delay suspended the game at the top of the eighth, lasting nearly two hours before the game resumed at 4 p.m.

On the game’s restart, Will Brand took over on the mound for UCA, retiring the Bearkats to give the Bears a chance to catch up at the bottom of the eighth inning. Wesneski made way for Relief Pitcher of the Year Dakota Mills for Sam Houston, who closed out the game with his 15th save of season and a 4-2 Bearkat win.

The Bears were led by Presley who was 2-for-4 at the plate with one RBI but the team could not find a breakthrough and failed to capitalize on six baserunners left on. Wesneski took the win and is now 7-3 on the year, striking out three on 74 pitches today.

UCA is eliminated from this year’s tournament while the Bearkats move on to face the loser of tonight’s matchup between No. 4 Houston Baptist and No. 8 New Orleans tomorrow at noon in another elimination game.