Photo Courtesy: Harding Athletics (Jeff Montgomery)
SEARCY, Ark. (HARDING) - Harding and Southwestern Oklahoma State split a doubleheader Saturday in Great American Conference action at Jerry Moore Field. Southwestern won the opener 5-2, and Harding took game two 4-2. The teams conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
Harding (19-14, 11-9) snapped Southwestern's 10-game winning streak with the victory in game two.
Bison senior starting pitcher Hayden Shirley (6-3) won for the first time in his last four starts with five solid innings the second game. He allowed only two hits and one earned run with three walks and three strikeouts.
Redshirt freshman Zac Stewart pitched a scoreless sixth, and sophomore Josh Spears allowed a run in the seventh but closed out the game for his first save of the season.
Harding took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by junior Jeremy Bohnett and made it 2-0 in the third on senior Paul Anzalone's single that scored senior Kyle Atkins.
Bohnett drove in another run with a single in the fifth to extend Harding's lead to 3-0.
Southwestern (21-12, 13-7) finally broke through against Shirley in the top of the sixth. Kale Thaxton's RBI single cut the Harding lead to 3-1.
Harding answered with an unearned run in the sixth. The Bisons loaded the bases with no outs but only scored once as sophomore Kyler Offenbacker scored from third on a passed ball.
Spears yielded singles to the first two Bulldog hitters in the seventh, but the Harding defense came through to limit the damage. JR Head doubled to left to score the lead runner, Kevin Cantrell, but Bohnett, Harding's left fielder, threw a perfect strike cutoff man Gabe Fyock, whose relay throw home nailed Jaden Chappell at the plate for the first out.
Southwestern's Brandon Ruiz then made a bid for an extra-base hit, but Harding rightfielder Paul Anzalone made a diving catch for out two. Spears struck out Thaxton looking for the final out of the game.
Atkins and Bohnett both had two hits in the Bisons' eight-hit attack.
Southwestern starter Cole Stephens (4-4) took the loss. He allowed three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings and struck out four.
Southwestern did all their damage in the fifth inning of the first game. The Bulldogs scored five runs on five hits in the inning with Zack Mang's two-run single the big blow.
Harding had taken a 1-0 lead in the second on junior Victor Guerra's sacrifice fly. The Bisons scored once more, in the ninth, on a Bulldog throwing error.
Southwestern's Calyn Young (5-2) pitched his fourth complete game of the season and earned the win despite allowing 10 hits. He did not give up an earned run or a walk and struck out four. Harding starter Cameron Walker (2-2) took the loss with five earned runs allowed in five innings. Redshirt freshman Alan Copeland worked four scoreless innings in relief for the Bisons.
Atkins, Bohnett and McCarver each had two hits for Harding.