CLEVELAND, Miss. -- The University of North Alabama's quest for a possible Gulf South Conference baseball championship came to an end Thursday with a 12-2 loss to Southern Arkansas on day four of the Morgan Keegan GSC Tournament.
UNA won its first two games in the tournament over Arkansas Tech and West Florida to advance in the winner's bracket, but then fell in back-to-back games to Valdosta State and SAU.
In Thursday's game, UNA led 1-0 with a run in fourth inning as UNA starter Mitch Handley pitched four shutout innings against the potent Mulerider lineup. Handley had pitched a nine-inning complete game for UNA in its win over Arkansas Tech and was going on just two days rest but began to run out of gas in the fifth. Southern Arkansas took a 3-1 lead in the fifth and the game remained 3-1 into the seventh when the Lions came unraveled. SAU plated nine runs over the final three innings on just six hits but were aided by seven North Alabama errors.
UNA added a run in the ninth but it was too little, too late.
Southern Arkansas (42-7) finished the game with 12 runs on 13 hits, while UNA managed just two runs on eight hits.
SAU starter Cole Lohden (5-1) went the distance for the Muleriders, walking one and striking out 13.
Handley (6-5) took the loss for UNA. He pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. Only four of SAU's nine runs were earned off UNA relievers Casey Jones and Will Rankin.
Blake Stroth was the only UNA batter with two hits in the game.
UNA finished its season at 29-24, marking the Lions 27th consecutive winning season.