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Wonder Boys drop game one in extra innings; comeback in game two to force decisive game three


RUSSELLVILLE — The No. 2-seed Arkansas Tech baseball team fought back from early deficits against No. 7-seed Ouachita Baptist in both games of the Opening Round Series of the 2024 Great American Conference Tournament on Friday, but fell in extra innings in game one, 9-6, before winning the second game, 7-5, to force the decisive game three.
In the opener, Ouachita got on the board early with two runs on four hits in the top of the first. That 2-0 lead held until the bottom of the third when Grant Jones hammered a solo home run out to right field for Tech's first run.
Neither team scored over the next two innings, but Ouachita struck for three runs in the top of the sixth to push their lead out to 5-1. The Wonder Boys were able to get a run back in the bottom of the frame with a RBI single up the middle by Jones.
Another two innings went by with neither team scoring. The Tigers would pick up a key insurance run in the top of the seventh on a bases loaded walk to go back up by four.
Down to their last at-bats in the bottom of the ninth, the Wonder Boys started their eventual game-tying rally with a single up the middle by Logan Schwenke. After Schwenke advanced to second on a wild pitch, Nick Jones drew a four-pitch walk, prompting the Tigers to go to their bullpen.
The reliever needed one pitch to get the first out of the inning and then got a ground ball back to him on the mound where he attempted to trigger a potential game-ending double play, but the throw got away into centerfield, allowing Schwenke to score from second, N. Jones to be safe and second and Keaton Ranallo to be safe at first. Brendyn Bard then drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
Shane Poe then came up with a RBI single up the middle to score N. Jones and make it a 6-4 game. After the second out was made in the next at-bat, Markos Cabranes drew a walk to force in a run and make it a one-run game. The Wonder Boys then got the game-tying hit on a single to right field from G. Jones. On that same play, however, the third out was made at the plate as the Wonder Boys tried to walk it off.
Neither team scored in the 10th inning, but Ouachita was able to score three runs in the top of the 11th. The Wonder Boys would bring the potential tying run to the plate in the bottom of the frame, but did not score as Ouachita took game one.
In the second game, Ouachita once more got on the board first with a leadoff home run in the top of the first. That score held until the top of the fourth inning when the Tigers plated a run to take a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Ouachita pushed their lead out to four runs with two runs. The Wonder Boys finally had an offensive answer in their half of the sixth as they scored twice on the strength of three hits and one Ouachita error.

Markos Cabranes led the inning off with an infield single to third and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Grant Jones would drive in Cabranes on a single up the middle. After the first out was made, Jones got to third base in the next at-bat on an errant pickoff attempt of him at first base. That set the stage for Nick Jones to cash in the run-scoring opportunity with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Ouachita tacked on a run in the top of the seventh on a solo home run, to go up 5-2. The Wonder Boys, however, had the counterpunch in their half, this time scoring three runs on two hits and one Ouachita error to tie the game at 5-all.
Cole Dawson got the inning going with a one-out walk. Cabranes followed with a hit-by-pitch. Dawson scored in the next at-bat as G. Jones reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop. On that play, the throw on the back half of a potential double play was errant, allowing G. Jones to get to second and Dawson to score. Logan Schwenke was then intentionally walked, but on the next pitch, that decision was made to hurt as N. Jones singled through the right side, scoring G. Jones and making it a one-run game.
Christian Olea then game through with the game-tying RBI on a single through the left side of the infield.
The Tigers were retired in order in the top of the eighth, and the momentum for the Wonder Boys continued in the bottom of the frame as they grabbed their first lead of the day with two runs in the inning.
Once more an error by Ouachita helped the Wonder Boys as Shane Poe reached with one out on a throwing error by the Tigers' third baseman. Once on base, Poe was pinch-ran for by Brandon Bunton. Cole Dawson then came up with the big hit as he doubled sharply into left-centerfield, scoring Bunton all the way from first base. Cabranes then made it a two-run lead for Tech in the next at-bat with a single through the right side.
The Tigers would make things interesting in the top of the ninth as they had the potential tying run on base, but Tech closer Mason Griffin was able to shut the door with no runs scoring to give Tech the needed win.

With the split of the first two games, the opening round series will be decided in a third game. That game is slated to start at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon from Baswell Field.