Arkansas Baseball – Reddies Head to NCAA Division II College World Series


The last time a Henderson State Reddies baseball team won a championship was in 1982. That all ended Sunday as the Reddies beat the No. 1 team in the nation, St. Cloud State 8-7 to win the NCAA Central Region title and advance to the NCAA Division II College World Series next weekend in Cary, N.C.

Henderson State, 31-19 on the year and the No. 6 seed in the Central Region, swept through the tournament winning four straight games including two wins over the Huskies.

The script couldn’t have been written any better as the Reddies had to overcome a 7-2 deficit to force extra-innings. In the Reddie 10th-inning, AJ Kruzel belted a leadoff double off the left field wall that came within a foot of being a home run.

Alex Morgan would enter the game to pinch-run for Kruzel and advance to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carlos Rodriguez. With one-out, Hayden Lessenberry came to the plate with the winning run 90-feet away. Lessenberry, who hit a grand slam in the first game of the Great American Conference Tournament, was just 3 for his last 17 at the plate. The sophomore catcher delivered the biggest hit of his career with the game winning single to left field.

As soon as Morgan crossed home plate, the Reddies mobbed Lessenberry creating the dog pile between first and second base.

For the fourth straight game, the Reddies got on the board in the first-inning as Henderson State took a 2-0 lead. With two-outs and Claude Johnson on second after reaching when he was hit by a pitch and advancing to second on a ground out, Lance Fields doubled down the right field line to drive home the first run of the game. Fields would then score as Tadarious Hawkins singled up the middle to give the Reddies the early advantage.

St. Cloud State, however, would answer with five runs in the top half of the second-inning with Zak Hoffman supplying a three-run home run to make the score 3-2. The Huskies would add two more runs with the help of a Eric Loxtercamp single and a pair of Henderson errors.

In the St. Cloud third, Zach Hoffman and Karl Sorensen would open the frame with back to back singles to chase Reddie starting pitcher Luke Tebbetts.

Jordan Taylor would enter the game on the mound for the Reddies, but the Huskies were able to extend their lead to 7-2 on a sacrifice fly and another Reddie throwing error.

Henderson would get a run back in the bottom half of the inning as Mayall would double to left-centerfield and score on a sacrifice fly by Taylor.

The Reddies slowly fought back beginning with a run in the sixth-inning as Carlos Rodriguez singled to center field to score Hawkins who reached on a fielding error earlier in the inning. Henderson put together a threat in the seventh as Mayall led off the inning with a single with Johnson reaching on a fielding error.

The Reddies would load the bases when Taylor singled to right field with Fields then scoring Mayall when he grounded out to third.

The Huskies would get out of the inning as SCSU pitcher K. Bolder got Hawkins and Brackhahn to fly out to end the inning.

With two-outs in the eighth, the Reddies put together another rally that would tie the game a 7-7. Mayall, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the Central Region Tournament, hit a double to right-centerfield for his fourth hit of the game to score Rodriguez who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. With Mayall on second, Johnson would tie the score when he singled to left field.

The two teams prepared for the ninth-inning when lightening and heavy rains began to fall forcing a 2:30 hour delay.

Reddie reliever Nick Vanthillo held the Huskies scoreless in the ninth and tenth innings to set the stage for Kruzel’s big double and Lessenberry’s game winner.

Taylor was instrumental on the mound for the Reddies pitching six strong innings, giving up just two hits and striking out a pair of batters.
Vanthillo would get the win to improve to 6-1 on the season.

Five Reddies earned a spot on the all-tournament team including AJ Kruzel, Claude Johnson, Lance Fields, Jordan Taylor and Mayall.

Mayall was a remarkable 12-for-17 at the plate (.706), with three doubles, eight runs scored and four runs batted in.

We will update this page when the  NCAA Division II World Series bracket is released. The eight-team double-elimination tournament begins Saturday, May 23 in Cary, N.C.

Reddies head to NCAA Division II World Series


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