Scott Goode, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
SEARCY – Delta State, ranked 23rd in Division II, did just enough Sunday to defeat Harding by one run in both games of a non-conference doubleheader at Jerry Moore Field.
Delta State won the opener 5-4 and took game two 1-0 to sweep the three-game series.
Delta State scored four of its five runs in game one on home runs.
Clay Casey hit a two-run home run to centerfield as part of the Statesmen’s three-run second inning. Harding came back to tie it with two in the second on Connor Kelly’s two-run single, and another run in the third on Grant Guest’s RBI single.
The long ball bit the Bisons again in the fifth. Justin Nussbaum hit a solo home run to left with one out, and one pitch later Jason Popovich homered to right.
Harding pulled within 5-4 in the seventh on Tyler Mohr’s RBI single. The Bisons had the tying run on in both the eighth and ninth innings but could not score the tying run.
Jackson Ward (0-1) started on the mound for Harding. He allowed seven hits and five earned runs in five innings and took the loss. Nash Thomas pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Reliever John Wesley Ray (1-0) earned the win in relief for Delta State. He allowed one unearned run in 2 1/3 innings. Peyton White pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to earn the save.
Guest was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI to lead Harding’s offense. Kelly had two hits and two RBIs.
Delta State had only one hit in 15 at-bats with runners on base in game two, but it was the only one needed.
Delta State’s Nick Morgan led off the fifth with a walk and was at third base with two outs when Emil Ellis doubled down the right field line to score the game’s only run.
Tre Hobbs (1-0), a preseason All-American, pitched a complete game and allowed only two hits and no walks and struck out three.
Freshman Austin Allen (0-1) pitched well for Harding, allowing only one earned run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Sam Alender pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and gave up only one hit.
Ben Brauss and Zach Beasley had Harding’s two hits.
Harding’s next action is next Friday and Saturday when the Bisons will play a three-game series at St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas.