Wonder Boys Stun No. 15 DSU With Sweep

Arkansas Tech did something on Saturday that no team had ever done before — hand the Delta State Statesmen a mercy-rule loss on their home field. Then the Wonder Boys did something they had never done before — sweep a doubleheader from the Statesmen.

In game one, the Wonder Boys (32-14 overall, 12-4 GSC) defeated the nationally 15th-ranked Statesmen 12-2 at Ferriss Field in a game that was stopped after the seventh inning because of the 10-run lead after seven innings rule.

Game two went to extra innings, where Tech out-lasted DSU 6-5 in nine innings to complete the sweep.

The wins vaulted the Wonder Boys into sole possession of second place in the Gulf South Conference West Division, and the victories assured Arkansas Tech of a berth in the GSC Tournament for the first time since 2007. The league’s postseason tournament is scheduled for May 1-5 in Millington, Tenn.

It is the Wonder Boys’ first doubleheader sweep of the Statesmen ever, and it assures Tech of its first series win over DSU ever.

The Wonder Boys will go for the series sweep at 2 p.m. Sunday. Radio station KCAB 980 AM and www.athletics.atu.edu will have live play-by-play coverage.

Tech rapped out 16 base hits as it ended a 10-game losing streak against Delta State (31-12-1, 11-5) in game one. It was the Wonder Boys’ first victory over DSU in baseball since April 8, 2006, and it was just Tech’s second baseball win over the Statesmen since 1999.

DSU had won 30 of the previous 31 meetings between the two programs before Saturday. The loss snapped a 13-game Statesmen winning streak, while Tech won its sixth consecutive game.

The key play in the game was a two-out, three-RBI double by Clint Stroud on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the fourth inning. His GSC-leading 20th double of the season (he added a 21st double later in the game) gave the Wonder Boys a 6-0 lead.

Landon Sullins followed with an RBI single to make it 7-0. Tech added two runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth to take a 12-0 lead.

Delta State finally got to Josh Floriani for two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the right-hander was able to induce a ground out by Michael Niemann to end the game early.

Floriani (10-1) allowed two runs on eight hits while pitching his fourth complete game of the season. With the win, Floriani becomes just the fourth Wonder Boy pitcher to ever win 10 or more games in a season.

Stroud was 3-for-5 with four RBIs to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Nick Makris was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Wonder Boys.

Joe Walton, Anthony Gower, Chris Reese and Tyler Taunton — Tech’s 6-9 hitters in the order — added two hits apiece. Walton drove in two.

Game two saw the Wonder Boys jump out to a 4-0 lead with four runs in the top of the second inning. All four of Tech’s second-inning runs came after two were out.

Delta State chipped away and tied it at 4-4 on Josh Gordon’s solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Wonder Boys moved in front 5-4 in the top of the seventh and final scheduled inning when pinch-runner Madison Beaird scored on a DSU throwing error, but Michael Vinson delivered an RBI single for the Statesmen in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extra innings tied 5-5.

Gower scored the go-ahead run on a RBI ground ball by Chad Wynn in the top of the ninth, and reliever Addison Rayford made the 6-5 lead stand up in the last of the ninth.

Rayford (3-1) allowed just one run while striking out four over three innings of relief.

Walton had three hits in the nightcap. Matt Johnson, Makris, Gower and Taunton had two hits each.