Wonder Boys, Muleriders Split Doubleheader

Arkansas Tech won game one in dramatic fashion with a defensive play and Southern Arkansas won game two in dramatic fashion with an offensive play during a Gulf South Conference baseball doubleheader at Tech Field in Russellville on Saturday.

The Wonder Boys cut down the tying run at home plate to preserve a 6-5 Arkansas Tech victory in the opener, but Chris Harrison’s two-run home run in extra innings allowed Southern Arkansas to win game two 10-8 and gain a split.

The win in game one snapped the Wonder Boys’ 13-game losing streak against SAU. It was Tech’s first win over the Muleriders since 2007 and its first win over Southern Arkansas in Russellville since 2004.

With the loss in game two, Arkansas Tech (19-12 overall, 7-1 GSC) fell into a tie for first place in the GSC West Division standings with Delta State.

Tech and SAU (19-11, 4-4) will play the rubber match of their three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Tech Field in Russellville.

Radio station KCAB 980 AM will have updates from the baseball game throughout the afternoon and play-by-play coverage of Sunday’s softball doubleheader between Arkansas Tech and Henderson State.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Landon Sullins gave Arkansas Tech the lead for good in Saturday’s opener with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Wonder Boys scored three runs during the frame to take a 5-3 edge.

Southern Arkansas’ Logan Williams delivered an RBI single in the top of the eighth to make it 5-4, but Matt Johnson answered for Arkansas Tech in the bottom of the eighth. His two-out RBI single provided the Wonder Boys with what proved to be a valuable insurance run.

That run became valuable when Gavan McCauley drove in Harrison in the top of the ninth to pull the Muleriders within 6-5.

It looked as if SAU might complete the comeback when it loaded the bases with two out later in the inning. The Wonder Boys went through three pitchers in the ninth inning, the last of which was Ted Nanez.

Nanez entered the game and promptly threw a breaking ball that bounced to the backstop, giving Jody Spain an opportunity to score from third base for Southern Arkansas and tie the score.

Tech catcher Danny Higginbotham quickly retrieved the errant pitch, which took a spring-like bounce off the backstop screen back toward home plate. Higginbotham tossed the baseball to Nanez, who covered home and applied the tag on Spain to end the game.

Sullins went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs for Arkansas Tech in game one. Johnson was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Tyler Dowse (2-2) pitched five and one-third innings for the Wonder Boys in relief to earn the win. He held SAU to one run on three hits while striking out four. Nanez collected his second save of the season.

SAU starting pitcher Dan Bream (7-2) gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits in six and two-thirds innings. He was tagged with the loss.

Arkansas Tech’s Nick Makris (photographed) and SAU’s Williams traded three-run home runs early in game two. The score remained tied 3-3 until the Muleriders exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth inning. Trey Buck’s two-out, two-run single capped the outburst and made it 8-3 SAU.

Higginbotham led off the bottom of the fifth with a home run to cut the Muleriders’ advantage to 8-4.

Josh Riley sparked a sixth-inning rally for the Wonder Boys with a one-out walk. Madison Beaird singled, Higginbotham notched an RBI single and Nate Wilder smacked a pinch-hit RBI double to pull Tech within 8-6.

Johnson completed the comeback with a two-run single that knotted the score at 8-8.

It remained tied until the first extra inning when Harrison hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot that put the Muleriders in front 10-8.

Doug Shields (2-1) retired the Wonder Boys in order in the bottom of the eighth to earn the win on the mound. Shields pitched two and two-thirds shutout innings.

Tech’s Ethan Crocker (2-1) was saddled with the loss. He allowed two runs in two and two-thirds innings.

Williams was 4-for-5 with three RBIs for SAU in the nightcap.