Arkansas Tech starting pitcher Aaron Luchterhand received some help from his friends on Saturday, and it was enough to get the Wonder Boys by the Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs 5-3 in game one of a three-game Great American Conference series at SWOSU Field in Weatherford, Okla.
Luchterhand (3-4) held Southwestern Oklahoma State to three runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits in seven innings. He lowered his team-best earned run average to 2.14 this season.
The win ended a streak of bad luck for the right-handed Australian. Arkansas Tech had only scored three runs in support of Luchterhand in his previous four starts.
Luchterhand's luck changed on Saturday, but the Wonder Boys had to rally late and then hold on to make him a winner for the first time since Feb. 24.
A pair of Wonder Boys' errors in the bottom of the fifth inning gave Southwestern Oklahoma State a pair of unearned runs and a 3-1 lead.
Three straight hits to begin the seventh inning opened the door on Arkansas Tech's comeback.
Singles by Nate Wilder and Kenny Spencer put runners and first and second base with no one out.
Drew Stanton's RBI double sent Wilder home and cut the Southwestern Oklahoma State lead to 3-2.
Cesar Abreu delivered a sacrifice fly that brought Spencer in with the tying run, and Stanton put the Wonder Boys in front 4-3 when he scored on a balk by Southwestern Oklahoma State relief pitcher Luke Barnard.
Luchterhand retired the Bulldogs in order in the bottom of the seventh inning and then handed the one-run lead to the Wonder Boys' bullpen.
Brandon Arata worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, and Stanton provided Arkansas Tech with some breathing room when he lifted a solo home run over the fence with one out in the top of the ninth.
Arata retired the first two Southwestern Oklahoma State hitters in the bottom of the ninth.
Bryce Stout kept the Bulldogs alive with a single. Marc Tarantola doubled to put runners at second and third, but Arata was able to catch Kyle Meadows looking at a called third strike to end the game with the tying run standing at second base.
It was Arata's second save of the season.
With the victory, the Wonder Boys won game one of a conference series for the first time this season.
Southwestern Oklahoma State starting pitcher David Francis (2-3) took the loss. He allowed four runs on eight hits in six and one-third innings.
The Bulldogs won game two 3-2 on Stephen Castiglione's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
SWOSU's Adrian Dominguez worked a perfect seventh inning for his seventh save of the season.
Cole Stephens (5-1) was the winning pitcher in the nightcap. He allowed two runs on nine hits in six innings.
Tech's Caleb Powers (4-4) was saddled with the loss in game two. He surrendered three runs on eight hits in six innings.
Landon Sullins, Jonathan Finnegan and Keenan Jumper had two hits apiece for the Wonder Boys in the loss. Finnegan drove in both Arkansas Tech runs.
The Wonder Boys (15-18 overall, 4-7 GAC) and the Bulldogs (19-10, 9-5) will conclude their series by playing a single game beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Click here to access live stats courtesy of the Southwestern Oklahoma State Sports Information Department.
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