Bats come alive for Arkansas Tech to pick up first win of the season

ATU Athletics 
Daniel Gallegos

HOUSTON, Texas – The Arkansas Tech baseball team picked up their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon as they closed out the 2021 Houston Winter Invitational with a 12-2 win in eight innings over Lubbock Christian.

In addition to the offensive outburst that saw Tech rack up a baker’s dozen worth of hits, the Wonder Boys (1-2) played flawless defense and received a quality starting pitching effort from returning junior Hayes Cox. Cox would pitch six complete innings in which he scattered three hits, allowed two earned runs, walked two and struck out five.

The offensive support of Cox started early as the Wonder Boys cashed in on a Kandon Bennett leadoff double in the top of the first inning with a two-out RBI double by Garrett Crews. An inning later, the Wonder Boys added two more runs to take a 3-0 lead. The runs in the second came on a RBI single to left off the bat of Jonathon Arrieta and a sacrifice fly to right by Trace Maddux.

In the third, the Wonder Boys put together their best offensive inning of the young season as they scored six runs on four hits while also benefiting from a LCU error.

That frame began with a walk to Crews. In the next at-bat, Josh Detweiler connected for a two-run home run out to left field. Matt Robbins followed with a single up the middle and three batters later, the bases were loaded with one out thanks to a hit-by-pitch on Arrieta and a walk issued to Landon Lord. The walk to Lord spelled the end of the game for the LCU starter, but it did not end the damage to his line.

Following the move to the bullpen, the Wonder Boys plated four runs as Bennett singled to shortstop for a RBI. Maddux then reached on a fielder’s choice that saw an errant throw by the LCU shortstop which allowed both Lord and Arrieta to score. Evan Hafley then drove in Maddux on a single through the left side to give the Wonder Boys a 9-0 lead.

LCU finally got to Cox and scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the third on a leadoff home run. That would be the only damage allowed by Cox in the frame.

Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth innings. The Wonder Boys were also held scoreless in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, LCU scored their second and final run of the game and off Cox on a sacrifice fly to left field.

Over the next two innings, the Wonder Boys were able to extend their lead out to double-digits with a run in the seventh and a two in the eighth. The run in the seventh had Bennet’s feet all over it. After he initially singled through the left side, Bennett then stole second base. He then took third on a wild pitch and later scored on a second wild pitch.

In the eighth, Drew Bailey hit a sacrifice fly for the first run while Bennett doubled to right-centerfield for the second run.

As the Wonder Boys were positioning themselves for a potential run-rule victory, the relief arms of Mason Griffin (Cabot, Ark.) and John Walsh ensured a ninth inning would not be needed as they pitched scoreless innings in the bottom half of the seventh and eighth.

Griffin, a true freshman from Cabot, made his collegiate debut in the seventh and retired the side in order while registering a pair of strikeouts. Walsh, a redshirt freshman made his season debut and notched three strikeouts to put the exclamation on the Wonder Boys’ first win of the season.

The Wonder Boys will now have about a week and a half before their next action. On the weekend of the February 12, the Wonder Boys will take part in the Henderson State Invitational and will play a trio of GAC foes in non-conference games. The first of those will be a Friday afternoon game against Southern Arkansas. On Saturday, the Wonder Boys will play Henderson State and on Sunday, they will take on Ouachita.

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