The Arka Tech

Tech baseball splits GAC matchup

LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Geofferey Birkemeier delivers a pitch during a recent game at Tech Field.

After weather caused the first two scheduled games to be canceled, Arkansas Tech (13- 10, 3-5 GAC) won the latter two 13-6 and 14-6 over Great American Conference opponent East Central (11-7, 7-4 GAC) on Sunday in Oklahoma City with the help of 27 team hits, a one-day conference doubleheader record since joining the GAC.

“I thought we played real well offensively and pretty well defensively,” head coach Dave Dawson said.

“They’re a very good offensive team, but our pitchers battled and were able to make good pitches that got us out of some tough situations.”

Senior right fielder Bryan Heward led the Wonder Boys offensively in the first win, going 3-for- 5 with three RBIs. Senior left fielder Cole Fergus went 3-for-5 at the plate as well, driving in two runs.

The Tigers jumped ahead early in the first inning with a two-run homer off junior starting pitcher Cody Jones (4-1), who would go on to get the win after giving up six hits, five earned runs and fanning four in 6.2 innings of work.

Tech tied it up in the second on a sacrifice fly from junior shortstop Collin O’Neil (1/3, two RBIs) and a RBI single to center from Fergus, but ECU scored two more runs in the bottom half of the inning on a double and a ground out.

An error by the Tiger shortstop allowed a Tech run in the third, and two batters later Heward hit a three-run home run that put the Wonder Boys up 6-4.

LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: John Lassiter throws toward first base in effort to catch the runner in a recent home game at Tech Field.

In the fourth inning, ECU stole home, and this along with a solo shot in the fifth tied the game back up.

A single to the pitcher from freshman third baseman Mark Vaughn scored two runs, and an error from the second baseman allowed another.

The blunders began to pile up for ECU, as Tech scored two more runs early in the ninth on a fielder’s choice and an error by the pitcher. O’Neil and Fergus both hit RBI singles to close out the game offensively.

Junior third baseman Caleb McKinnon went 2/4 with four RBIs and three runs, Fergus was 2/3 with three RBIs and O’Neil was 3/5 with two RBIs in the second Tech win.

The Wonder Boys put together a fourrun first inning, scoring on a RBI walk, a single from O’Neil and a two-run single from Fergus. Senior designated hitter Kris Ayers (1/4, two RBIs) added another run in the second on a ground out.

A pair of doubles in the bottom half brought ECU to within two runs, but Tech was able to assemble another four-run inning in the third that put the Wonder Boys up 9-3.

A double down the left field line from O’Neil and a sacrifice fly led up to McKinnon’s two-run home run that closed out the inning.

Three more runs were added in the fifth on solo homers from Fergus and Ayers and a McKinnon ground out. McKinnon pumped the lead up to 13-3 in the sixth with a single through the right side.

ECU snuck in a run in the bottom half before a home run from senior first baseman Patrick Castleberry closed out Tech’s offensive showing.

The Tigers did tally two more runs in the seventh, but the game was out of reach.

Sophomore starter Trent Armstrong (2-1) got the win in three innings pitched, giving up six hits and three earned runs. Sophomore Geofferey Birkemeier pitched 3.2 innings, gave up four hits and three runs and struck out three.

“I’m excited about getting out of there with a couple of wins, but we need to be able to put hitters away,” Dawson said.

“We’d get ahead in the count and not be able to finish them off. We need to work on that and just try to continue to have good consistent approach at the plate.”

Tech split with Harding on March 10, losing 4-3 before winning the second game 9-5.

The Wonder Boys return to Tech Field to take on conference opponent Southeastern Oklahoma State (9-9, 5-5 GAC) on Friday and Saturday in a three-game series.

Following a homestead against Southeastern Oklahoma, the Wonder Boys will travel to Oklahoma City to face Oklahoma Christian on Tuesday.

A three-game series at the University of Arkansas at Monticello is on March 27-28, followed by a trip to Shawnee, Okla., to face Oklahoma Baptist University on March 31to round off the month.