ENID, Okla. – Southern Arkansas freshman outfielder Trevor Rucker was 3-for-5 with two homeruns, a double, and drove in five runs, including the game-winning run, as he helped SAU defeat top-seeded Arkansas Tech by a score of 6-5 on Monday afternoon.
The win keeps the Muleriders (36-17) alive in the GAC Tournament and advances them to Championship Tuesday. The Muleriders, with one loss in the tournament, will have to win twice on Tuesday to win their third-consecutive GAC Championship.
In Monday’s elimination game, the Muleriders jumped on top of the Wonder Boys (42-10) 1-0 in the bottom of the first as Rucker belted the first of his two homeruns in the game. An inning later, William Townsend laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt for a hit to score Zack Costa.
In the top of the third inning, however, the Wonder Boys got to SAU starter Janson Carr and score three times in the frame to take a 3-2 lead. Carr, who was unable to record an out in the inning, was relieved by the Muleriders closer Preston Gray. Gray would come on and retired the next three batters to limit the damage.
After that, Gray would remain in the game as he pitched the final seven innings for his longest outing of the year. In his time on the mound, Gray would scatter five hits, walk one, strike out three, and allow two earned runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Muleriders jumped back on top as Rucker connected on a three-run homerun out to left field, making it a 5-3 game in favor of SAU.
The Wonder Boys, who were also facing elimination, would rally for a run in the top of the eighth and ninth innings to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied at five-all.
In that bottom half, the Muleriders would put the winning run on base right away as Josh Rodriguez singled up the middle on the first pitch he saw. After a foul out on a sacrifice bunt attempt accounted for the first out of the inning, SAU’s Tyler Cameron singled into right field to move Rodriguez into scoring position at second base.
In the next at-bat, Rucker lined a ball into left field for a double. On Rucker’s hit, Rodriguez raced around third base and beat a play at the plate to score the winning run.
The Muleriders are guaranteed to play Tuesday at noon against Harding.
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