The East Central University baseball team dropped the first two games of the Great American Conference series with Southern Arkansas. The Tigers (8-26, 2-18 GAC) first fell 9-13 and then gave up a 3-12 decision.
ECU was led by senior Mac Grace, who tallied three hits, a .375 average, and two RBIs. Junior Kyle Watase also tallied third hits and two RBIs, while hitting .333 for the day.
The Tigers and the Muleriders (27-12, 18-5 GAC) will wrap up the series, Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m.
Game 1 – SAU 13, ECU 9
The Tigers came out strong, scoring two runs in the first two innings. ECU scored the first run in the first inning on two hits. Senior Justin Gibson started things off with a single to left field and was advanced to third when senior Paul Guardado hit a sacrifice bunt. Senior Mac Grace earned the RBI with a single to center field.
In the second inning, seniors Justin Sutherland and Benny Woodard made it on base with singles to left field and Gibson sent the run home with a single to right field for the 2-0 lead.
However, the Muleriders came out in the bottom of the second and scored five runs to gain their first lead of the day, 2-5.
The Tigers cut the deficit to one (4-5) in the top of the third. Junior Ethan Gold started the inning with a single to first and was sent home when junior Kyle Watase doubled to right center. Sutherland moved the runner to third with a sacrifice bunt and runners were on first and second after junior Josh Lavender was hit by a pitch. Watase was able to steal home after the throw was made to second when Lavender stole the base.
The score remained 4-5 until the top of the fifth inning, when ECU took a 9-5 advantage with a five-run inning. After the first two batters were sent back to the dugout, Watase singled to second base, Sutherland was hit by a pitch and Lavender walked to load the bases.
Woodard earned an RBI when he was hit by a pitch for the first run of the inning. Sophomore Eric Swann added another run with a single to left field and Gibson drew a walk for the third. The final two runs were scored when Guardado singled through the right side.
However, SAU was not done scoring and tied the game in the seventh after scoring a run in the sixth and three in the seventh. The Muleriders then took control of the game with a four-run eighth inning for the 9-13 win.
Game 2 – SAU 12, ECU 3
The Muleriders took an early lead in the second game of the day, scoring two runs in the first, third and fifth innings and adding four runs in the fourth for a 0-10 advantage.
The Tigers got on the board in the top of the sixth inning with a single run. Guardado reached on an error by the second baseman and Grade singled to right center. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, putting Guardado in scoring position when Watase grounded out to second.
SAU added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth for a 1-12 lead.
ECU added two runs in the top of the seventh for a 3-12 final. Redshirt freshman Cale Russell started the inning off with a walk and was joined on base by senior Spencer Penrod, who was hit by a pitch. The bases were loaded when Lavender singled to short. That allowed Guardado to earn an RBI with a single to second and Grace to send a run home when he grounded out to third.