Photo Courtesy: SAU Athletics
MAGNOLIA, Ark. (SAU) - A 13-9 win in the opener and a 12-3 win in the nightcap by the Southern Arkansas baseball team not only gave the No.15-ranked team in the country their eighth-straight conference series, but the doubleheader sweep also gives head coach Steve Browning career wins No. 99 and 100.
Win No. 99 was one of perseverance for the Muleriders (27-12, 18-5 GAC) as they had to play from behind on a couple of occasions throughout the game. Single runs in the first and second inning staked the visiting Tigers (8-26, 2-18 GAC) to an early 2-0 advantage. In the bottom of the second inning, however, the Muleriders would get on the board in a big way as they scored five runs in the frame to take a 5-2 lead. The big blow in that inning was a bases-clearing triple off of the bat of Chris Quinn.
East Central would answer back in the next half inning as they scored a pair of runs to pull the game to within a run, 5-4. After neither team scored in the fourth inning, the Tigers chased starter Philip Menou from the game as they tagged him for five runs in the frame to grab a 9-5 advantage.
Timothy Buchanan, who was the third man to pitch in the five-run Tiger fifth inning, came on with the bases loaded and struck out Ethan Gold to get out of the inning. Over the next three innings, Buchanan would give his team a chance to come back in the game as he did not allow a run while facing minimum amount of batters in that time.
After a single run in the bottom the sixth inning, the Muleriders' offense began to make Buchanan's outstanding relief effort pay dividends as they scored three runs in the seventh inning to knot the game at nine-all. An inning later, the Muleriders regained the lead as they scored four runs on four hits. The first two runs of the inning came on a great piece of hitting by Ryan Dardenne as he served a single to right-centerfield after falling behind in the count 0-2. Three pitches later, Tyler Cameron belted a homerun to left field, scoring Dardenne. Cameron would go on to hit another two-run homerun in the nightcap.
Now staked to a four-run lead, Buchanan came back out in the ninth and just as he did the previous three innings, Buchanan tossed a scoreless inning as the Muleriders came away with the 13-9 come-from-behind win.
Unlike win No. 99, the milestone mark of win No. 100 for Coach Browning was not really in doubt at any point as the Muleriders got a dominant start from James Baune while the offense continued to be on a tear.
Baune, who improves to 8-1 on the year, allowed just one unearned run and scattered three hits while he struck out 10 batters in his six innings of work.
Offensively, the Muleriders jumped out to a 2-0 lead as they platted a pair of runs in the first inning. Two innings later, they tacked on two more runs to take a 4-0 lead. Eight more runs then followed over the Muleriders' final three at-bats as they ended the game with an efficient 12 runs on 12 hits.
The Muleriders will now be able to go for the sweep tomorrow as the series finale is scheduled to be played starting at 1:00 p.m. inside Walker Stadium at Goodheart Field.