Ouachita Baptist takes two from Henderson State

FROM PRESS RELEASE

ARKADELPHIA – Destan Makonnen had a pair of big games at the plate as the 23rd-ranked Ouachita Baptist baseball team rolled past rival Henderson State, 15-2 in eight innings and 22-7, Saturday afternoon with a Gulf South Conference West Division doubleheader sweep at Clyde Berry Field.

Makonnen, who was 5-for-8 with four runs and 12 RBIs in the two games , belted a pair of three-run homers in the first game and followed that with a grand slam in the second game, along with a solo shot.

In the opener, the Reddies (15-22 overall, 0-8 GSC West) scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on two hits, but the Tigers contributed to the runs with a pair of errors.

But Ouachita Baptist (29-7, 4-4) scored four runs off Henderson State starter Josh Wesson in the top of the third inning to grab a 4-2 advantage.

Blake Lockwood led off the frame with a walk and stole second. Justin Pennell ripped a double to right-center, scoring Lockwood. With the lead cut to 2-1, Jim Streicher followed with a base hit to right and moved to second on the throw home as Pennell scored to tie the game.

Rudy Jovanovski drilled a 2-2 pitch by Wesson over the left-center wall for his 10th homer of the season and gave Ouachita Baptist a 4-2 lead.

Facing a new pitcher, Pennell walked and stole second. Streicher walked and Pennell took third on a stolen base. Jovanovski plated Pennell with a base hit to left. On a 2-1 count, Makonnen drilled the pitch by reliever Aaron Moulton over the right-field wall to give Ouachita Baptist an 8-2 advantage.

Ouachita Baptist extended the lead in the eighth inning as Blake Lockwood doubled to shallow right and moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Pennell. Streicher doubled to deep center, plating Lockwood and Jovanovski followed with an infield base hit. Makonnen drilled his second homer to right-center, giving the Tigers a 12-2 lead with just one out.

Chad Taylor walked and Chandler Boyce ripped a base hit to left and both advanced on a wild pitch. Both scored on base hit to right by Drew Maus as Ouachita Baptist extended the margin to 14-2. The Tigers weren’t done scoring as Lockwood connected on his third triple of the season down the right-field line, allowing Maus to score from third.

Steve Smith (5-1) started on the mound for the Tigers and pitched brilliantly after a shaky first inning. Smith gave up two runs (one earned), while scatting five hits with 14 strikeouts and three walks in eight innings.

Wesson (1-5) pitched three innings, giving up four runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Moulton surrendered four runs on three hits with a two walks in just an inning of work. Mitzner pitched the final four innings, giving up seven runs on seven with two walks and four strikeouts.

Ouachita Baptist raced out a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the second game, but exploded with nine runs in the second inning to grab

In the second inning, Taylor led off the frame with a triple to right and scored on a double steal as Boyce took second. Maus walked and Drew Wurzelbacher reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Lockwood singled to right, plating Boyce and Maus with no outs. Wurzlebacher went to third and Lockwood took second on the play.

Pennell doubled to right, scoring Wurzelbacher and Lockwood to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead and ending the day for Reddies starter Richard Weatherford.

James Ferguson relieved Weatherford and hit Streicher to put runners on first and second with no outs. Both advanced a wild pitch and Jovanovski walked to load the bases. Makonnen belted a 3-2 pitch over the right-field wall for the grand slam homer, giving Ouachita Baptist a 10-0 advantage and forcing Henderson State to change pitchers.

The Tigers added a pair of runs in the frame to grab a 12-0 lead, but Henderson State battled back, scoring three in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to 12-3.

Ouachita Baptist increased the margin to 13-3 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jovanovski and a solo homer by Makonnen.

Henderson State cut the deficit in half, 14-7, as Cody Duncan belted a three-run home run over the center field wall. However, Ouachita Baptist put the game out of reach by plating five more runs in the top of the sixth to grab a 19-7 lead and Pennell belted his fifth homer, a three-run shot in the seventh as the Tigers eclipsed the 20-run mark with a 22-7 advantage.

Jarod Hershberger (7-1) pitched five innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits. Jerry Helferich and Zach Wilbanks worked an inning of relief.

Weatherford (1-2) gave up seven runs on four hits with a strikeout and a walk in just an inning of work. Ferguson wasn’t much better, giving up three runs. Nick Rhodes, Ryan Wilson and Ryan Scott also pitched in relief.

Ouachita Baptist concludes the three-game series 1:00 p.m., Sunday, March 30 at Clyde Berry Field against Henderson State in a Gulf South Conference West Division matchup.

Picture Provided by Dr. Wesley Kluck

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