Tech takes road series at Southwestern Oklahoma

LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Bryan Heward waits for a strike during a recent home game at Tech Field.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Bryan Heward waits for a strike during a recent home game at Tech Field.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Bryan Heward waits for a strike during a recent home game at Tech Field.

Arkansas Tech (23-17, 10-10 GAC) has brought itself to within a half-game of making the Great American Conference Tournament after a three-game road sweep of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (16-23, 9-15 GAC) on Friday and Saturday.

The Wonder Boys combined for 46 hits on the weekend, 20 of which came in Saturday’s second game. Sophomore Trent Armstrong and junior Cody Jones pitched full games and earned wins.

In the 9-4 opener win, the Wonder Boys produced 16 hits with the help of senior first baseman Patrick Castleberry (4-for-5, 2 RBIs) and junior second baseman Caleb McKinnon (3-for-4).

Freshman third baseman Mark Vaughn, senior right fielder Bryan Heward and senior left fielder Cole Fergus each contributed two hits and two RBIs. Armstrong improved to 4-1 on the year after giving up 10 hits and two earned runs and striking out three.

The Wonder Boys capitalized early on Southwestern Oklahoma’s mistakes, scoring 4 unearned runs by the third inning. The Bulldogs cut the lead in half with two runs in the fourth, but a solo homer from Heward in the fifth and a RBI single from Castleberry in the seventh pushed the lead back to four.

In the bottom of the seventh, a pair of Bulldog RBIs made it 6-4, but the Wonder Boys locked up the win in the ninth when Castleberry knocked in a RBI on a single and Fergus hit a two-run home run over left center.

The Wonder Boys won 9-4 in Saturday’s noon game. Heward (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) had the best performance at the plate, while junior shortstop Collin O’Neil and Vaughn each had two hits. Jones (6-2) gave up 11 hits and three earned runs in his complete game.

Starting off strong offensively again, the Wonder Boys jumped ahead 5-0 by the second inning. SWOSU tallied an unearned run in the bottom of the second, and Vaughn added a run in the fourth on a ground out RBI.

The Bulldogs came to within three in the fifth inning after a pair of RBIs, but in the ninth Tech scored on a botched throw and a two-run home run from Heward. Southwestern Oklahoma managed to put up one more run but couldn’t rally a comeback.

The Wonder Boys had its best offensive showing of the series in its 14-4 finale win. Fergus was 4-for-5 with three RBIs, Heward was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Castleberry and Vaughn both went 3-for-5.

Senior starter Rafiel Johnson pitched five innings, gave up six hits and two earned runs and fanned three in his first win this year.

The Wonder Boys had put up 8 runs, five of which were unearned, and allowed none by the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, SWOSU scored on a single, but Castleberry and Fergus had RBIs in the fifth that pushed the lead to 10-1.

The home team attempted to rally with a run in the bottom of the fifth and two runs in the sixth, but the Wonder Boys put the finishing touches on the series with a four-run seventh inning featuring a two-run homer from Fergus.

The Wonder Boys will host its penultimate three-game conference series against Northwestern Oklahoma (16-24, 8-17 GAC) on Friday and Saturday at Tech Field with the first pitch at 7 p.m.