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First-Place Wonder Boys to Host Muleriders

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The program that won the last two Gulf South Conference West Division baseball titles will meet the team that sits atop the 2011 GSC West standings when the Southern Arkansas Muleriders visit the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys for a three-game series this weekend. First pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader at Tech Field in Russellville is set for 1 p.m. Radio station KCAB 980 AM will have the play-by-play description in the Arkansas River Valley. The series will conclude with a single 9-inning game at 1 p.m. Sunday. KCAB and will have updates from that game throughout the afternoon.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcasts.  Admission to Tech Field will be free.  Arkansas Tech (18-11 overall, 6-0 GSC) is in sole possession of first place in the GSC West Division after recording sweeps of Ouachita Baptist and Arkansas-Monticello to begin league play. The Wonder Boys lead the GSC in team batting average (.338), slugging percentage (.544), runs scored (260), doubles (76) and home runs (34). Arkansas Tech opened its GSC schedule with back-to-back series away from home. Now, Tech will conclude its league schedule by playing four of its final five league series at home. That’s the good news for the Wonder Boys. The bad news is that the competition is about to get much tougher. Southern Arkansas posted an overall record of 47-10, won its second consecutive GSC West championship and was the runner-up in both the GSC Tournament and the NCAA Division II Tournament South Regional last season.

SAU was the preseason pick to win the 2011 GSC West title, and the Muleriders were ranked as high as No. 10 in the preseason NCAA Division II national polls.

But lofty preseason rankings don’t help a team overcome the loss of three All-Americans.

Gone from the 2010 Mulerider team are third baseman Cannon Lester, shortstop Andrew Whittington and starting pitcher Hayden Simpson, who was drafted in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs.

Southern Arkansas is 18-10 overall, 3-3 in league play, in fifth place in the GSC West and out of the national polls after dropping 2-of-3 in a GSC series against Delta State in Magnolia last weekend.

The Muleriders rank ninth in the conference in team batting average (.286) and their team earned run average (4.85) is eighth-best in the GSC.

Last season, Southern Arkansas hit .344 with runners in scoring position. The Muleriders’ average in that situation this season is .302.

Southern Arkansas has won 13 consecutive baseball games against Arkansas Tech, and SAU is 16-1 against Tech since the start of the 2006 season.

The Wonder Boys’ last victory over the Muleriders was a 10-6 triumph in Magnolia on April 6, 2007.

Arkansas Tech has not defeated Southern Arkansas in Russellville since posting a 3-2 win on April 4, 2004.

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