WEATHERFORD, Okla. – Tied at one-all through nine innings, the No. 4-ranked Southern Arkansas baseball team scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning to propel themselves to a 4-1 road win over the No. 26-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma Bulldogs in the Great American Conference opener for both teams on Friday afternoon at the SWOSU Baseball Field.
Pitching was on full display in Friday’s series-opener as SAU starter Dylan Lynn and SWOSU starter Jonathan Johnson seemingly matched each other pitch-for-pitch throughout the game. Both Lynn and Johnson (1-1) would pitch into the ninth inning, both would allow nine hits, and both would not allow a run until the seventh inning when each man surrendered a single run.
After allowing that run in the seventh inning, both Lynn and Johnson would work scoreless eighth innings to push the game to the ninth tied at one-all. In the top of the ninth, Johnson retired the Muleriders (7-1, 1-0 GAC) in order, giving the Bulldogs (2-3, 0-1 GAC) a chance to win the game in the bottom half of the inning.
In that inning, the Bulldogs got a man in scoring position with one out on Lynn as Kale Thaxton singled down the left field line and then advanced to second on an error by the SAU left fielder. With first base open and the possibility of a double play, Lynn was prompted to issue an intentional walk before giving way to reliever Preston Gray.
Gray (2-0) would come on and only need two pitches to get out of the ninth and force the game into extras as he induced a pair of first-pitch flyouts.
In the top of the 10th, the Bulldogs would send Johnson back out to the mound, but the Muleriders would jump all over him as the first three batters reached on singles. The third of those three consecutive singles was a RBI knock by Jon Phillips that scored William Townsend and spelled the end of the day for Johnson.
Tyler Hampton would come on in relief of Johnson and Hampton walked the first man he faced on four pitches to load the bases with no outs. Following that walk, Hampton would force in a run as he walked Carver Rademacher, making it a 3-1 Mulerider lead. Two batters later, Justin Buchanan added a run of insurance for the Muleriders as he singled up the middle to score pinch-runner Zach Costa.
Now with a 4-1 lead, Gray came back out for the bottom of the 10th. Ads he did in the bottom of the ninth, Gray made quick work of the Bulldogs as he worked a perfect frame, striking out two batters to secure the win for the Muleriders.
Both teams will return to the diamond on Saturday as they will play the final two games of the series. First-pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for noon.