Early miscues proved costly for McNeese Thursday night in the second round of the Southland Conference baseball tournament.
Central Arkansas took advantage of the errors and powered through for an 11-3 victory that sent McNeese (29-27) into an elimination game on Friday.
The big blow came in the fourth inning, when UCA (31-21) scored five runs on four hits, a wild pitch, three walks and an error.
"I think we just made too many mistakes tonight and Central Arkansas capitalized on every one of them," said Cowboys head coach Justin Hill. "Credit to them and the game they played, once they grabbed the lead they were able to stretch it out. We just have to come out and play better tomorrow."
McNeese will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in an elimination game at noon on Friday. The winner will play UCA at 7 p.m. Friday.
"I think our kids will bounce back as they have all year," Hill said. "Our goal is to get past this contest tonight and come out tomorrow and play our game so we can have a shot at playing these guys again here. "
Five McNeese batters collected hits in the game with outfielder James Cantu leading the way with two RBIS.
Sophomore right-hander Bryce Kingsley (5-5) took the loss after giving up nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits and two walks and struck out four.
Collin Kober and Jacob Williams combined to pitch the last five innings for McNeese and gave up one earned run and scattered three hits.
The Bears took an early lead in the bottom of the first frame on two miscues from McNeese. With no outs, Central Arkansas got on the board following a botched catch at first base while the Bears added another run to their lead as wild pitch allowed another runner to score and give the home team a 2-0 lead.
McNeese struck back in the third frame as the Cowboys also took advantage of a UCA miscue. With one out, a Guillotte single turned into a fielder's choice and an error as the Bears looked to get right fielder Matt Williams out at third but instead allowed him to go home on a high throw into Central Arkansas dugout. The score was tied up on the next play as left fielder James Cantu drove in Guillotte to score on a center field single and make the score 2-2.
A hit into "No Man's Land" of the infield was enough to give UCA a two run lead over the Cowboys in the bottom of the frame. With two out and runners in scoring position, first baseman Scott Zimmerlee knocked a single into the first base side of the infield and reached base safely as McNeese could not make a tag for the final out of the inning. The Bears took a 4-2 lead at that point.
UCA used four hits and an error in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a commanding lead over the Cowboys, highlighted by a 2-RBI single while a fielding error allowed the Bears to plate another run and take a 9-2 lead over McNeese.
The Cowboys cut into the lead in the top of the next inning as Andrew Guillotte's fielder's choice allowed Lloyd to reach home plate and cut the UCA lead to a 9-3 score.
Central Arkansas tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning following a 2-RBI single sent up the middle by Zimmerlee as the Bears gained an 11-3 lead over McNeese.
Friday's contest will be streamed live on the Southland Digital Network, which fans can access by logging on to southland.org/watch or by downloading the Southland Conference app on their mobile devices or tablets.
The game will also be broadcast on Cajun Radio-1470 AM in Lake Charles and online at cajunradio.com, with Bruce Merchant providing the call while fans can also follow live in-game updates on Twitter @McNeeseBaseball.