Harold Coggins: Muleriders Three-Peat in GAC


Southern Arkansas made sure the more things change on the Great American Conference baseball landscape, the more they remain the same. For the third straight year, the Muleriders are the GAC Baseball Championship Tournament winners.

And for the second straight season, SAU had to beat its most bitter rival, Arkansas-Monticello, for the crown. Tuesday afternoon, after the Muleriders had advanced to the title game with a 4-3 win over Harding at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Okla., SAU took the tournament championship with a 6-2 victory over UAM.

Southern Arkansas, who lost its hold on the GAC regular season thanks to Arkansas Tech’s 22-game winning streak to finish the regular season, entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed after an 18-12 league campaign but emerged on top—again.

Carver Rademacher hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning and Yumezo Densaki continued his dominance of the Boll Weevils as Southern Arkansas completed a dramatic run from the losers’ bracket to keep the GAC baseball crown in Magnolia.

The Muleriders, who entered the tournament ranked fourth in the NCAA Division II Central Region, locked up their seventh straight NCAA Tournament berth by securing the GAC’s first-ever automatic bid. UAM was ranked third in the  Central Region rankings and Arkansas Tech held down the top spot. These teams will learn their postseason destination during the NCAA.com Selection Show, set for Sunday at 9 p.m.

Densaki improved to 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three starts against the Weevils, who established a school record for wins during a season during the tourney and are now 36-15. After surrendering runs in the first and fourth innings, he retired 16 of the last 19 innings, including a strikeout of Ben Agredano to clinch the victory for the Muleriders, 38-17.

Prior to Rademacher’s blast, Tournament MVP Trevor Rucker opened the seventh inning with a walk. He stole second and third in front of the home run. For the tournament, Rucker, the GAC’s Freshman of the Year, hit three home runs and drove in seven during the tournament. He stole three bases and provided the game-winning hit on Monday against top-seeded Arkansas Tech.

SAU added insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Josh Rodriguez scored on a throwing in the eighth and Jackson McCurdy homered with one out in the ninth.

UAM opened the scoring on an RBI single from junior Bronson Gillam in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Alex Lang was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth to account for UAM’s final RBI.

Rucker, Densaki and Rademacher were joined on the All-GAC Tournament team by SAU teammates Preston Gray and Dylan Lynn, as well as UAM’s Travis Steinke, Ray Johnson and Evan Comeau. Harding’s Collin Campbell and Noah Chandler, Ouachita Baptist’s Landon Moore and Chris Tavares, and James Sharp of Arkansas Tech rounded out the all-Arkansas all-tournament squad.

Muleriders Three-Peat for GAC Title


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