Wonder Boys Qualify for GAC Tournament

Arkansas Tech University will play postseason baseball for a seventh consecutive season.

The Wonder Boys (21-28 overall, 12-20 Great American Conference) clinched the No. 8 seed in the 2016 GAC Tournament splitting a doubleheader with Harding University at Jerry Moore Field in Searcy on Sunday.

Arkansas Tech will begin its portion of the GAC Tournament by playing a best 2-of-3 series at either Southwestern Oklahoma State University or the University of Arkansas-Monticello May 6-8. Tech’s opponent will be determined by the outcome of the UAM-Southern Arkansas University game on Monday, May 2.

The Wonder Boys and Harding will conclude their series with a 3 p.m. game in Searcy on Monday.

Game One: Tech 5, HU 4

Just when it appeared all might be lost for Arkansas Tech on Sunday afternoon, relief pitcher Ryan Vruggink turned the tide and made it possible for the Wonder Boys to punch their ticket for the postseason.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Harding took advantage of a walk, a throwing error, a hit batsmen and a wild pitch to put Zac Stewart at third base and Harrison Hunter at second base with no one out.

Then, just as quickly as Vruggink (2-1) had created the situation, he maneuvered out of it by striking out two batters and inducing a foul pop out to third base.

Emboldened by their escape act in the last of the ninth, the Wonder Boys took the lead for good in the top of the 10th inning.

Marcus Wilson led off with a double, Dylan McDearmon singled and Josh Watkins drew an intentional walk to load the bases with one out.

Collin O’Neil lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Wilson with the go-ahead run.

Jesse Harbin made the lead stand up and earned his 10th save of the season by holding the Bisons scoreless in the bottom of the 10th.

Harding relief pitcher Joshua Spears (0-2) allowed one run on two hits in one and one-third innings.

Game Two: HU 2, Tech 1

Jaxon Mohr’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Harding a 2-1 victory over Arkansas Tech in Sunday’s nightcap.

The two-base hit sent Blake Coward home with the winning run. Coward had battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a lead-off walk. He went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Noah Chandler.

Harding reliever Reed Roberts (3-1) was credited with the win after pitching one scoreless inning.

Arkansas Tech starter Trent Armstrong (4-8) was charged with two runs on six hits over six and one-third innings.

O’Neil drove in the Wonder Boys’ run on a double in the third inning.