Arkansas Tech (10-9, 1-5 GAC) swept Augustana College (0-6) four games to none at home, as the Wonder Boys offensive attack was bolstered by Patrick Castleberry’s 7/11, 12 RBI and 3 HR showing at the plate over the course of the series on Saturday and Sunday.
“I thought we swung the bat good,” head coach Dave Dawson said. “Castleberry carried us in a couple of those games with huge hits, and he was an RBI machine. He’s definitely one of best hitters in the conference, and he showed it this weekend.”
A pair of two-run home runs from Castleberry highlighted a Tech hitting performance that otherwise waned down the stretch in the Wonder Boys 8-6 win over Augustana College in the first game of Saturday’s double header.
Tech jumped out in front early, scoring two runs in the second inning on a throwing error and a groundout RBI from Keenan Jumper (2/4, 2 RBIs).
With two outs already against them in the third, the Wonder Boys managed to rally and add four more runs to make it 6-0. Castleberry added the first two runs of the inning on a homer over the left field fence, and Caleb McKinnon (1/4, 1 RBI) and Jumper followed up with back-to-back RBI doubles down the right field line.
Augustana then knocked in three runs in the next three innings all by way of RBI singles, cutting Tech’s lead to three.
But in the seventh inning Castleberry hit his second homer, giving Tech enough to secure a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game.
Augustana scored three runs in the eighth, two of which were unearned. But it couldn’t handle Tech’s set-up man and closer pitching combo of Ryan Vruggink and Randy Vallejo. Cody Jones (3-1) earned the win on the mound, giving up 11 hits and four runs through seven innings of work.
“Our team played well defensively,” Dawson said. “We got four good starts out of our pitchers and great help from our bullpen. It was good to see them pitch to their full capabilities and gain some confidence.”
Tech managed to squeeze nine runs out of only seven hits in Saturday’s second game, as the home team cinched up a 9-1 win with the help of another stellar performance at the plate from Castleberry (2/3, 5 RBIs).
Castleberry dropped a three-run bomb in the first inning, and he again churned out runs in the fifth with a two-run RBI single shot into right field. The next batter, Bryan Heward, then hit a three-run home of his own that extended the lead to 8-0.
Augustana snuck in one run in the sixth on a single through the left side, but this was the only blemish in Trent Armstrong’s (1-1) win. Armstrong pitched a full game and allowed only eight hits and one run while fanning nine batters.
Marcus Wilson (2/3, 1 RBI) added the final nail in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single.
Sunday’s opening game was never a contest, as the Wonder Boys combined for 15 hits in a 17-0 win over the traveling team. Heward (4/5, 3 RBIs), Kris Ayers (2/4, 3 RBIs) and Castleberry (2/4, 2 RBIs) led the offensive charge.
After a RBI single from Castleberry in the first inning, Tech drove in 10 runs in the second with a barrage of RBI singles and doubles.
The Wonder Boys added runs in the fifth and sixth, and Augustana could come up with no answer to Geofferey Birkemeier’s (2-0) full-game performance on the mound, during which he gave up zero runs on four hits and struck out three.
Cole Fergus added insult to injury in the sixth with a three run homer to close out the game offensively for Tech.
The finale on Sunday was the closest game yet between the teams, but Tech still managed to come out on top with a 4-3 win.
Castleberry yet again started off the scoring in the first inning with a single that was misfielded by the second baseman, thus driving in the runner for the unearned score.
Ayers doubled to right field and drove in two runs in the fifth, and a sacrifice fly in the sixth added on the Wonder Boys fourth run.
Augustana then went back-to-back with a two run homer and a solo home run in the seventh despite a Tech pitching change, but Vallejo was still able to earn the save after pitching one inning and notching the final out. Aaron Johnson (1-1) earned the win through six innings of work, giving up two runs on three hits and fanning six.
The Wonder Boys will play on the road in a three-game series against East Central (11-3, 6-0 GAC) on Friday and Saturday with the opening pitch at 2 p.m.