No. 17 Arkansas Tech (2-2) hammered out seven of its runs in the second inning of an 11-2 win that earned the Wonder Boys a split in its two season-opening double headers against Missouri Western State University (2-2) on Friday and Saturday at Tech field.
The Griffons started out the scoring in Friday’s first game, which Tech would eventually take 5-4, when Childs’ ground-out RBI in the second inning was followed up in the third with a two-run homerun coming from the bat of Glaude.
Tech went to work on the Griffon lead in the fifth inning, as freshman centerfielder Blake Owen and senior second baseman John Lassiter brought in two runs from a pair of RBI singles.
Senior catcher Keenan Jumper tied the game at 3-3 on an RBI single to center in the bottom of the eighth, but the game was forced into an extra inning after a scoreless ninth.
With the bases loaded and two outs, the Griffons gained the lead in the 10th when MWSU’s Degner reached home from third on a Yeager bunt back to the pitcher.
After two singles from junior third baseman Caleb McKinnon and senior right fielder Bryan Heward, McKinnon scored on a fielding error by the leftfielder. This would set up a bunt from freshman pinch hitter Seth Wheeler, which after a wild throw from the pitcher, would score Heward (unearned) for the winning walk off run, his third score of the game.
Junior Ryan Vruggink earned the win on the mound for Tech, but sophomore Trent Armstrong put in seven innings of work as the starting pitcher.
In the second game of the afternoon, Degner homered to right field in the first at bat of the game. But Tech’s leadoff-man, junior shortstop Collin O’Neil (2/3, three runs and one RBI) immediately answered back with a solo homerun of his own to left center.
McKinnon added on to two Tech unearned runs coming by way of error in the fourth with a two-run RBI single that extended the Wonder Boy lead to 5-1. MWSU’s Cannella answered in the fifth with a double to left center that scored two runs.
Tech would score once more in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Kris Ayers that made it 6-3 before the Griffons scored six runs in the seventh (Fisher RBI, Cannella 2 RBIs, Downs RBI, Childs 2 RBIs) to split the first double header with a 9-6 MWSU win.
On Saturday Tech fell in its first game to MWSU 10-4 thanks to a 12-hit, five-RBI performance that gave junior Zach Skelton (four innings pitched, seven runs) his first loss in his first start on the mound this year.
RBIs coming by way of a Glaude triple and a Cannella ground out gave the Griffons a quick 2-0 lead in the first, which Tech’s Ayers answered in the bottom half with a single RBI to center.
The second inning proved a disaster for Tech, as MWSU drove in five runs on a walk, a throwing error that scored two, a passed ball and a fielder’s choice. The lead was stretched to 8-1 in the fifth when an error in right field allowed Childs to score on a LaHonta single.
Tech and MWSU would trade a run each in the next two half innings, and the Wonder Boys would cut into the lead as much as 9-4 in the bottom of the sixth after an RBI from the designated hitter freshman Mark Vaughn (2/4, one RBI) and a score on a throwing error, but the hole dug in the second inning ended up being too deep to crawl out of.
The series split was saved with a dominant performance in Saturday’s latter game, as junior Cody Jones earned the win on the mound after giving up only two runs through 5.1 innings of work.
Heading into the bottom of the second inning down 2-1, the Wonder Boys bested MWSU’s single-inning performance in the earlier game by racking up seven runs on six hits.
The scoring teed off when a fielding error scored Vaughn. A RBI single from O’Neil, a Lassiter sacrifice bunt that scored one run, an RBI single from senior first baseman Patrick Castleberry and a Heward RBI single then followed in rapid fashion.
Rattled, the Griffons gave up two more runs in the inning when a wild pitch allowed Heward and Ayers to take a base. The catcher’s throw meant to hold Heward at third went astray, allowing the two baserunners to score and putting the Wonder Boys ahead 8-2.
A two-run homerun from Castleberry (2/4, three runs, two RBIs) in the fourth inning and a solo shot from Vaughn (2/3, two runs, one RBI) in the fifth cinched up the win for Tech.
Heward (.467 BA) led the series offensively with seven hits, four runs and two RBIs. Castleberry went 6/18 at the plate, with three RBIs and one homerun. O’Neil was 5/16, with two RBIs, four runs and one homerun.
Tech will travel to Houston on Thursday to play in the four-day Houston Winter Invitational.