Final at-bat UCA rally foils UNO in series opener

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Privateers give up four runs in ninth inning


CONWAY, Arkansas – The University of New Orleans baseball team began its Southland Conference series against the University of Central Arkansas on Friday afternoon, leading for the majority of the game until a costly four-run rally from the hosts in the bottom of the ninth propelled them to a 6-5 victory.

New Orleans (13-10, 3-4 Southland Conference) led 5-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for Central Arkansas (11-13, 2-5 Southland Conference) with no outs before a triple from the Bears’ Keaton Presley knotted the score 5-all. UCA won the contest four batters later on a Privateers’ fielding error with one out to score Presley.

“How we come back and respond from today is going to define the rest of our season,” head coach Blake Dean said. “If they don’t wake up and play now I’m not sure if they ever will. We have to play a full nine innings, we have to execute and get better at bats to give us a chance.”

UNO got on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning with a three-run home run from junior infielder Tristan Clarke over the right field wall, sending him plus senior infielder Dakota Dean and junior infielder Owen Magee home. Dean began the frame with a double, followed by a walk for Magee to put the two on base for Clarke’s homer.

Central Arkansas cut the deficit to one with a pair of runs in the fifth inning, but two runs in the top of the sixth from the Privateers recreated the three-run advantage at 5-2. Junior infielder Jay Robinson ignited a string of three-consecutive singles for UNO with a shot to center field, followed by sophomore outfielder Orynn Veillon and senior infielder Aaron Palmer to load the bases with one out. Senior infielder Samuel Capielano brought Robinson home with a sacrifice fly, followed by a single from Dean in the next at bat to score Veillon.

Dean and Palmer each finished the contest with three hits apiece, with Dean chipping in a RBI, while Clarke led UNO with three RB.

Junior right handed pitcher Shawn Semple got the start for UNO on the mound, throwing 4.1 innings with two runs allowed off six hits with one walk and one strikeout. Junior southpaw John Michael Stephens logging 3.2 innings with three runs off four hits and a team-best three strikeouts. Junior right handed pitcher Jarred Taylor got the loss for the Privateers, allowing the go-ahead run to get on base while striking out one batter.

For Central Arkansas, Hunter Strong posted a team-best three hits, while Presley provided four RBI for the home side. Ty Tice got the start for UCA, going 5.2 innings while striking out seven Privateers and allowing five runs and throwing 132 pitches.

Game two of the Southland Conference series is scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 25 at 4 p.m., with the series wrapping up on Sunday at 1 p.m. New Orleans is back at Maestri Field on Friday, Mar. 31 when UNO hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 to start a Southland Conference series. For tickets to future Privateers athletic events, contact the UNO Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 280-GAME (4263) and season tickets can be purchased over the Internet by clicking HERE.

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