Gone: Wonder Boys Eliminate Muleriders; Drop Next Game To End Season


RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Zac Johnson and Kris Ayers were both 2-for-4, while Bryson Morris, Ethan Crocker, Colt Burns and Jake Bell combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, but the No. 3 Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (44-12) were unable to overcome timely hitting by the No. 4 Minnesota State Mavericks (44-9), dropping a 5-2 decision to the Mavericks on Saturday night at Tech Field.

The loss ends a record-setting 2014 season for Arkansas Tech and came on the heels of beating Great American Conference foe, the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders, in an elimination game earlier in the day 5-0.

Arkansas Tech carried some offensive momentum over from the earlier win over Southern Arkansas, stringing together four consecutive singles in the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead, but MSU starter Mathias Butala was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam to hold Tech to just one run in the first inning.

Butala settled down, allowing just four hits over his next seven innings of work. Meanwhile, Tech starter Trent Armstrong matched Butala pitch-for-pitch over the first four innings, before the Mavericks took advantage of an error in the fifth inning to score a pair of unearned runs and pull ahead 2-1.

MSU’s Mike Andries belted a two-run homer in the sixth to push the Maverick lead to 4-1, and MSU tacked on another unearned run to take a commanding 5-1 lead after six.

The Wonder Boys put some offense together in the eighth, using an RBI double by Ayers to narrow the gap to 5-2, but Tech would get no closer as MSU closer Matt Geislinger threw a perfect ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.

Butala improved to 5-2 on the season after allowing eight hits and two runs in eight innings of work, walking one and fanning eight. Armstrong suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 7-1 after allowing five runs, two earned, on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work.

Over the course of the 2014 season, Arkansas Tech set program highs in national ranking, climbing as high as No. 3, made its first appearance and served as tournament host for the NCAA Central Region Championship, and won a school-record 22 consecutive games.

For the Muleriders, facing elimination in the 2014 Central Region Tournament in the noon game, both the Southern Arkansas and Arkansas Tech baseball teams got outstanding starting pitching and defense as the two nationally-ranked clubs played to extend their season. It would be Tech, however, that would come out on top as they used a five-run eighth inning to propel them to a 5-0 win, ending SAU’s season.

Just a half inning prior to the five-run eighth for the Wonder Boys (44-11), the Muleriders (39-19) had put together one of their best scoring opportunities of the game as they had bases loaded with one out and their cleanup hitter Carver Rademacher due up. A fly ball off the bat of Rademacher into medium centerfield looked like it would push across the game’s first run, but that run was not allowed as the Wonder Boys picked up the third out of the inning at third base before the run was deemed to have crossed the plate.

Moments after that pivotal call, the Wonder Boys would come to bat in the bottom of the eighth. A first-pitch single into left-centerfield by James Sharp chased Yumezo Densaki from the start as the Muleriders went to their closer Preston Gray. After a successful sacrifice bunt moved Sharp into scoring position, the Wonder Boys would load the bases on an infield single and a walk.

A big second out followed in the next at-bat as Gray would get designated hitter and cleanup batter Kris Ayers to flyout to shallow left field, keeping the bases loaded. In the ensuing at-bat, the Muleriders would fall mere inches from getting out of the inning as Zac Johnson flared a two-RBI single off the top of SAU second baseman Josh Rodriguez’s glove as he ranged up the middle.

Three more hits and runs would come as Tech took a 5-0 lead before the Muleriders got out of the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, the Muleriders would get a two-out walk, but were unable to extend the game any further as they dropped the 5-0 decision to the Wonder Boys.

The Muleriders, who won their third-consecutive GAC Tournament Championship and appeared in their seventh-straight regional tournament, end their season with a 39-19 record. It is also the 14th-straight and 23rd in the last 24 seasons in which the Muleriders have won 30 or more games.

 Wonder Boys Eliminate Muleriders

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