Jacksonville jumps on UCA early in rout

CONWAY -- University of Central Arkansas baseball Coach Nick Harlan is hoping for a complete reset after Friday's game against Jacksonville.

The ASUN leader came to Bear Stadium and scored three runs in the first inning, eight in the first three and capped off a 15-1 run-rule win in seven innings with a grand slam to take the second game of its series with UCA.

It wasn't the Bears' day from the first pitch as 12 of the first 13 from starting pitcher Payton Windham were outside the strike zone to load the bases.

"We just didn't get off to a good start on the mound," Harlan said. "Sometimes, you know, that's baseball. You miss a couple calls early and you can't find the zone, and it kind of gets magnified and then, you know, and it just gets a little bit overwhelming."

Windham (0-2) allowed one hit in his inning, but with 26 of his 44 pitches falling outside the strike zone, he walked five batters as Jacksonville (15-13, 7 -1 ASUN) jumped out to a 3-0 lead before UCA (11-15, 3-5) took an at-bat.

AJ Mendolia led off the bottom of the first with a single and Jake Trabbie reached on an error two batters later to put a runner in scoring position. But the threat ended without a run for the Bears .

Jacksonville scored a run in the second inning and four in the third, all against Charlie Christensen, who also struggled for command.

"For us, it was just not worried about putting up zeroes, it was worried about throwing strikes," Harlan said. "It does make it hard on the guy coming in when he has to rush and speed up and get ready, but that's part of it. We have to overcome that.

"We weren't throwing competitive strikes today as a staff."

Between Windham, Christensen, Perry Titlow, Gavin Alveti and Bryce Parlin, the Bears walked 10. Only Alveti, who held the Dolphins scoreless for 1 2/3 innings in relief, did not have a base on balls.

On the flip side, UCA did not have baserunner after the first inning until the fourth inning, when Drew Sturgeon recorded an infield single.

The Bears were held to 3 hits and 1 run, which came in the fifth inning on a Mendolia sacrifice fly, and totaling 6 baserunners. Starter Richard Long (3-2) recorded Jacksonville's first complete game this season.

"When you're playing from behind, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do more than you really should," Harlan said. "[We] just couldn't get anything stringed together, couldn't get anything going."

In the seventh inning, the Dolphins sealed the run-rule victory with a grand slam by No. 9 hitter Jackson Westmoreland.

"We'll just go back to work on, 'Hey, these are the things that we need to do,' " Harlan said. "And it's pretty simple. If you're aggressively throwing strikes, if you're playing catch well, if you're swinging at the right pitches, you're going to have a chance to win, and we just didn't do those things today."

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