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Part-timer Flagg enters, gets walk-off home run for Bears

by Sam Lane | March 19, 2023 at 2:25 a.m.

CONWAY -- For the first time in his college career, Connor Flagg rounded third base to see his teammates' faces surrounding home plate.

Seconds after his first career home run cleared Bear Stadium's right-field fence, Flagg ran toward home plate to put the final stamp on a 7-6 walk-off win over North Alabama on Saturday.

"I've been a part of a lot of walk-offs in my life, [but] being the guy that hits the home run and meets everybody there with everybody cheering and happy for me, it's awesome," Flagg said.

Flagg entered the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. UCA (10-8, 2-0 ASUN) was trailing 3-0 after being held scoreless by North Alabama (5-12, 0-2) pitcher Jacob James until then.

James got North Alabama out of multiple jams through the first seven innings. He threw 123 pitches with 12 strikeouts. He came out for the eighth inning but hit UCA's Evan Hafley in the first at-bat then walked AJ Mendiola on four pitches before being pulled at 130 pitches.

UCA Coach Nick Harlan said he wanted the left-handed catcher to give reliever Cade Barnett a different look. Flagg went up looking to give the Bears a lead with one swing but flew out to right field, making the score 3-1.

"I was up there hunting to end the game both at-bats," Flagg said. "Being able to make the adjustment, that's what I was trying to do. It helps that my approach has been to get the ball in the air to right field."

UCA scored five more runs in the eighth inning to take a 6-3 lead thanks to a North Alabama throwing error, a two-run single by Mason King and safety squeezes from Reid Bowman and Trey Harris.

Flagg, a junior from Greenbrier, has been a part-time player through his first three seasons in Conway. Saturday was his eighth game this season and his 15th and 16th plate appearances.

"I don't get to play all the time, and I'm always looking to come in and help the team in any way possible," Flagg said. "I've been working really hard these past three years and to see it come to fruition, it's just awesome."

UCA turned to Trent Gregson for the save in the ninth inning, but he allowed 2 walks and 2 hits in a third of an inning. Brady Walker came in to get the final two outs but not before North Alabama tied it 6-6.

Flagg wasted no time in the bottom of the ninth, hitting UCA's third walk-off home run this season on the first pitch he saw -- and it only took him half the run to first to realize what he'd just done.

"When I'm in the zone, and I start swinging, I black out. I have no idea what's going on," Flagg said. "It felt good off the bat. I saw it going to right, and I had some wind helping it blow out. I think when I was about halfway to first, I was like, 'That might be out of here.' "

"[Connor's] been in the program, he's worked really hard, he's had some moments, but he's been a part-time player," Harlan said. "As a coach, sitting back, it was really enjoyable because you get to see someone who's worked really hard have a moment like that, and he'll have it forever."


Northwestern (La.) St. 5, UALR 0

Four Northwestern State pitchers combined to hold the University of Arkansas-Little Rock to four hits, shutting out the Trojans at Brown-Stroud Field in Natchitoches, La.

After the Demons opened the scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of the second inning, Northwestern State (12-6) stretched its lead to 3-0 in the third with an RBI double from Gabe Colaianni and an RBI single from Brayden Cust. The Demons tacked on two more runs, one in the sixth and another in the eighth,ultimately handing the loss to Jackson Wells.

Nico Baumbach was the only player with multiple hits for UALR (9-7), which struck out 19 times.


Louisiana-Lafayette 13, Arkansas State 5

Louisiana-Lafayette answered Arkansas State -- and then some -- as the Ragin' Cajuns slugged their way to a series-clinching victory Saturday at Russo Park in Lafayette, La.

The Red Wolves batted around in the top of the third, taking a 4-0 lead with RBI doubles from Blake Burris and Kody Darcy. But after starter Hunter Draper had faced the minimum through two innings, Louisiana-Lafayette (13-6, 2-0 Sun Belt Conference) tagged him for four runs, highlighted by a Max Marusak two-run home run.

ASU (7-10, 0-2) wouldn't score again until Hunter Thomas' solo homer in the ninth, by which point the Ragin' Cajuns had piled on nine more runs to lead 13-4. Five different players had multi-hit outings for the Cajuns, led by shortstop Kyle DeBarge's 3-for-5 day with tw2o runs.



Daylen Adderley's three-run triple in the first inning got Texas Southern off and running to a second consecutive victory over the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on Saturday at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex in Pine Bluff.

Adderley, Gabriel Vasquez and Alexander Olivo all scored three times each for the Tigers (16-6, 2-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference), who jumped out to a 8-0 lead and eventually coasted to a series win. Vasquez also led Texas Southern with three hits.

Jakobi Jackson had three hits to lead UAPB (7-10, 0-2). Jacob Riordan received the loss after giving up 11 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings.

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