Arkansas Tech University and Missouri Western State University split a season-opening, four-game baseball series in non-conference play at Tech Field in Russellville on Friday and Saturday.
The nationally 17th-ranked Wonder Boys (2-2) will participate in the Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, beginning on Thursday, Feb. 5, with a 2 p.m. contest against St. Mary’s University.
Arkansas Tech will continue its portion of the event by facing Henderson State University on Friday, Feb. 6, the University of Central Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 7, and Tarleton State University on Sunday, Feb. 8.
Game One: Tech 5, MWSU 4
Arkansas Tech took advantage of a Missouri Western error in the bottom of the 10th inning to push the winning run across for a 5-4 Wonder Boys’ victory in the series opener on Friday.
Keenan Jumper’s run-scoring single for Arkansas Tech in the bottom of the eighth inning drove Bryan Heward home, tied the score at 3-3 and eventually forced an extra inning.
The Golden Griffons edged in front 4-3 in the top of the 10th when Michael Yeager’s bunt single allowed Ryan Degner to score the go-ahead run.
Arkansas Tech responded in the bottom of the 10th. Heward’s fourth hit of the game brought Caleb McKinnon in with the tying run.
Marcus Wilson walked to set the stage for pinch-hitter Seth Wheeler. With runners at first and second base and no one out, Wheeler’s intention was to put down a sacrifice bunt. He did much more.
Missouri Western pitcher Josh Lansangan fielded Wheeler’s bunt and made an errant throw. His error allowed Heward to race home with the winning run for Arkansas Tech.
Heward finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored and one driven in. John Lassiter had two base hits and one run batted in for the Wonder Boys.
Tech’s Ryan Vruggink (1-0) was tabbed as the winning pitcher after he worked two-thirds of an inning. Lansangan (0-1) took the loss.
Wonder Boys starting pitcher Trent Armstrong received no decision after allowing three runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out seven Griffons.
Game Two: MWSU 9, Arkansas Tech 6
Missouri Western erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh and final inning to defeat Arkansas Tech 9-6 in Friday’s nightcap.
With the Griffons trailing 6-3 after six innings, Cody Childs sparked Missouri Western’s comeback with a lead-off triple in the seventh. Orencio Fisher’s RBI single to shortstop drove in Childs. A one-out walk to Dylon Koch led to Cosimo Cannella’s two-RBI double to left field and the score was tied 6-6.
The Griffons grabbed the lead on an RBI single by Brandon Downs. They tacked on two insurance runs courtesy of a two-run single by Childs in his second at-bat of the inning.
The Wonder Boys were retired in order in the bottom of the seventh inning by MWSU reliever Richard Peoples. He was credited with the save.
Missouri Western’s A.J. Martinez (1-0) pitched two-thirds of an inning and was the winning pitcher.
Arkansas Tech reliever Randy Vallejo (0-1) was saddled with the loss.
Heward and Collin O’Neil had two hits apiece for the Wonder Boys, while McKinnon and Kris Ayers both contributed two RBIs.
Cannella was 3-for-4 with four RBIs for the Griffons.
Game Three: MWSU 10, Tech 4
A quick start propelled Missouri Western to a 10-4 victory over Arkansas Tech in the first of two games on Saturday.
The Griffons struck for two runs in the first inning and five runs in the second inning while building an early 7-1 lead.
David Glaude and Trevor LaHonta both had three base hits for Missouri Western, while Ryan Degner and D’Andre Heggie collected two hits apiece. The Griffons benefited from four unearned runs as a consequence of four Arkansas Tech errors.
Banks Born (1-0) pitched the first five innings for Missouri Western to earn the win. He surrendered two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits. Born recorded five strikeouts.
Arkansas Tech starting pitcher Zach Skelton (0-1) was charged with seven runs, three of which were earned, over his four innings of labor.
Patrick Castleberry and Mark Vaughn were both 2-for-4 at the plate for the Wonder Boys.
Game Four: Tech 11, MWSU 2
After losing two games in a row to Missouri Western, Arkansas Tech busted out in a big way in the second inning of the series finale.
The Wonder Boys put together a seven-run rally in the last of the second on their way to a 11-2 victory.
Six base hits by Arkansas Tech, two errors by the Griffon defense, two sacrifice bunts and a wild pitch contributed to the Wonder Boys’ second inning. By the time it was over, Tech led 8-2.
Tech’s Castleberry added to the margin with a two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the fourth inning. Vaughn went deep for a solo home run one inning later to set what proved to be the final score.
Cody Jones (1-0) limited the Griffons to two runs, one of which was earned, while pitching five and one-third innings in his first start of the season. He struck out six Missouri Western hitters.
Arkansas Tech relief pitchers Brandon Surdam, Bryson Morris and Tyler Huffstickler combined to get the final five outs without allowing a run.
MWSU starting pitcher Tyler Tuepker (0-1) allowed four runs, three earned, in one inning.
O’Neil, Castleberry, Vaughn and Jumper had two hits apiece for the Wonder Boys. Castleberry drove in three runs.