STARKVILLE, Miss. _ Ethan McKinzie and Bryce Biggerstaff combined on a seven-hit shutout Tuesday night as the University of Central Arkansas Bears downed Mississippi State 2-0 at historic Dudy Noble Field.
McKinzie (1-1), a junior righthander from Gravette, went six innings in his first start and allowed just five hits and struck out four. Sophomore Bryce Biggerstaff from Sherwood pitched the final three innings for his first save. The pair allowed just seven singles on the night.
"That was just a complete ballgame tonight,’ said UCA head coach Allen Gum. "Pitching, defense and some timely hitting. We just played good baseball. When our guys play that kind of baseball, we can beat anybody.’
The Bears (24-26), who managed eight hits off five MSU pitchers, scored the only run they would need in the second inning when senior designated hitter Blake Roberts singled home catcher Michael Marietta for a 1-0 lead. UCA made it 2-0 in the fifth when Forrestt Allday walked and went to third on Blake Marchal’s infield single.
The Bulldogs then attempted a double play on Ethan Harris’ ground ball but he beat out the throw to first allowing Allday to score.
In the bottom of the ninth, Biggerstaff coerced a popup to third, a ground out to third and a line drive to second base for the final out to give the Bears just their second win over an Southeastern Conference opponent. UCA beat Ole Miss 4-3 in Oxford in 2008.
The Bears, in sixth place in the Southland Conference, host league leader Sam Houston State in the final regular-season series beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. The top eight teams receive berths to the 2012 SLC Tournament.
"Like I told our guys, enjoy it until midnight, then we have to flush it and get ready for a big series at home,’ said Gum. "Sam Houston State is really the bigger fish for us. We have to restart and go from here. So many things can happen this weekend, there’s a lot on the line.
"We just have to keep our head down and our chin up.’
Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m., with Saturday’s "Senior Day" beginning at 1 p.m. at Bear Stadium.