Scott Goode, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
SEARCY – Harding baseball gave up six runs in the top of the ninth but scored seven in the bottom of the inning to defeat Christian Brothers 13-12 and win in the bottom of the ninth inning for the second time in two days.
Junior Nolan Fertig had the game-winning hit Tuesday in Harding’s 9-8 victory over Hendrix and walked with the bases loaded to push across the game-winning run Wednesday against Christian Brothers. It was the sixth walk by Buccaneer pitchers in the ninth inning and their 10th of the game.
With the victory, Harding improved to 11-16 overall and travels to Bethany, Oklahoma, this weekend to continue Great American Conference play against Southern Nazarene.
Christian Brothers (7-19) benefited from five Harding walks in the first inning to score five times and take a big early lead.
Harding clawed its way back with one in the bottom of the first and two more on RBI doubles from Zach Beasley and Eric Hansenin the sixth. The Bisons pulled within 5-4 on Luke Van Dover‘s RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh.
As the Bisons’ comeback continued, freshman reliever Nick Bowers, who entered with one out in the first, held the Bucs scoreless over the next 6 2/3 innings. He had only pitched three innings the entire season before Wednesday.
Christian Brothers extended its lead to 6-4 with a run on a bases loaded walk in the top of the eighth, but Harding rallied and scored two in the bottom of the eighth. Beasley scored from third on a bases loaded double play, and Connor Kelly tied the game when he scored on a wild pitch with two outs.
A hit batter and three walks set up Christian Brothers for its big inning in the ninth. The last two of the six runs that scored came in on Jaime Soto’s triple to right.
In Harding’s ninth, Grant Guest doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a wild pitch. Christian Brothers led by five. Kelly walked with the bases loaded to cut it to four. Jesse Cox singled with the bases loaded to cut the lead to 12-9. Miles Humphreys walked with the bases loaded, and Harding trailed by two. Pinch-hitter Ben Bailey‘s drive down the right-field line scored two to tie the game. Two batters later, Fertig walked on a 3-1 pitch to force in pinch-runner Lane Smith with the game-winning run.
Nash Thomas (1-0), the sixth Harding pitcher earned the win. Garrett Stebbins-Johnson (1-1) was the seventh Christian Brothers pitcher and took the loss.
Harding had 13 hits to go with the 10 walks. Guest and Beasley were both 3-for-5 and scored twice. Fertig’s game-winning walk was his fourth of the game, tying a school record. The last player to walk four times was Kyler Offenbacker at Southern Nazarene in 2014. Only Dare Saul in 2007 against Evangel had ever walked four times at Jerry Moore Field.
Soto and Taylor Angley-Holman had two hits each for Christian Brothers.