The East Central University baseball team lost a close game, 6-7, in the first of three games at Harding in Great American Conference action.
The Tigers (5-15, 1-9 GAC) recorded 10 hits as a team, with junior Josh Lavender earning three and senior Justin Sutherland adding two. Senior Gabriel Martinez suffered the loss on the mound, moving to 1-2 on the season.
The Bisons got on the scoreboard early, with three runs in the bottom of the first and one in the second for a 0-4 lead.
ECU cut the deficit to 1-4 in the top of the third. Junior Michael Mariano started the inning off by getting hit by a pitch. He was advanced to third on a double by senior Paul Guardado down the left field line. Mariano then scored on a wild pitch.
The Tigers added a second run in the top of the fourth on back-to-back singles from Lavender and Sutherland. Lavender was on third after Sutherland’s single, which allowed freshman Brandon Maggia to hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the run.
Harding added two more runs in the bottom of the eight to go up 2-6 heading into the final inning.
ECU’s offense came to life in the ninth. Maggia, senior Benny Woodard and Mariano all singled to load the bases. Guardado then drew a walk to send the first run of the inning across the plate. Junior Jake Caton then hit a sacrifice fly to left for a second run. Junior Ethan Gold reached on an error to cut the deficit to one (5-6) and Grace hit a single to short that allowed the fourth run of the inning to score and tie the game at six.
However, the Bisons got one more chance to win and took advantage of it in the bottom of the ninth hitting three singles for the 6-7 win.
The teams will continue to series, Saturday, March 9, with a double-header slated to start at 1 p.m.