Ouachita Baptist takes two from North Alabama

FROM PRESS RELEASE

ARKADELPHIA – The second-ranked Ouachita Baptist baseball team didn’t make things look easy, but got the job done Wednesday afternoon, defeating North Alabama 4-3 in extra innings in the opener and then completing the doubleheader sweep with a 4-3 come-from-behind win in game two at Rab Rodgers Field.

The Tigers (18-2) got a great starting performance by Steve Smith in the first game as the senior right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on one hit with three walks and six strikeouts. However, he didn’t figure in the decision as Patrick Lemmond came on to close the door, but he surrendered a pair of runs on two hits in 1/3 of an inning. Jerry Helferich (3-0) got the win in relief, working 2 1/3 innings, scattering three hits.

Ouachita Baptist got a run in the third and scored a pair in the fourth, but gave up three in the top of the seventh to force extra innings. Neither team could get anything going offensively until the bottom of the ninth.

Ryan Wade led off the frame with a walk and Drew Wurzelbacher advanced Wade to second on the sacrifice bunt. Nick Williams ran for Wade and moved to third on a base hit to right-center by Blake Lockwood. Chandler Boyce followed with a walk to load the bases and Jim Streicher popped up to the shortstop. Williams tagged from third and beat the throw to give the Tigers a 4-3 win.

Brandon Tepe, who was named the GSC East Division Pitcher of the Week, started for the Lions (12-5). He gave up three runs on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Ryan Miller pitched in relief and Matt Vandenheuvel (2-2) took the loss, giving up a run on one hit, while working 1 2/3 innings.

In the second game, Zach Wilbanks started on the mound for Ouachita Baptist, but was lifted after 2 1/3 innings as he gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with a pair of walks. Sean O’Rourke pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief, scattering four hits with two walks and two strikeouts to improve to 2-1 on the season.

Destan Makonnen belted his 10th home run of the season to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the second. But North Alabama plated three runs in the top of the third and seemed in control.

Streicher, who was 3-for-3 at the plated, connected on his second homer of the year, a solo shot over the left-field wall, cutting the Lions lead to 3-2. Ouachita Baptist tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and won the contest in the bottom of the seventh.

Chad Taylor led off the seventh with a single through the left side and was lifted for pinch runner Wurzelbacher. JoeDan Poulter reached on an infield bunt, advancing Wurzelbacher to second. Lockwood walked to load the bases for Boyce, who’s deep fly ball to center scored the winning run.

Brennen Auerbach pitched three innings for North Alabama, giving up two runs on three hits. Miller worked two innings of relief, surrendering a run on one hit. Vandenheuvel took the loss by working 1 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits.

The Tigers play host 12:00 p.m., Saturday, March 8 against Missouri Southern State with a doubleheader at Rab Rogers Field.