MONTICELLO — The Arkansas-Monticello baseball team has yet to sweep a Great American Conference series this season.
The Boll Weevils, though, took a big step towards that accomplishment on Friday.
A pair of solid outings from Logan Johnson and Kade Garlington helped UAM to a doubleheader sweep of Harding, 13-3 and 4-0, to open the teams’ GAC series at Weevils Field.
“Both of them threw really well,” Weevils coach John Harvey said. “That helps take a little pressure off our offense, because our offense has been struggling a bit lately.
“But both guys commanded the zone. I know we had no walks in the first game, and we only had two walks in the second.”
In the first of the two seven-inning games, Johnson (4-2) had a complete-game effort allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts.
In the second game, Garlington (6-2) went 6 1/3 innings before being lifted for Jeff Harvill. Garlington gave up just four hits and two walks with two strikeouts but did throw 102 pitches.
“He was just tired,” Harvey said of why he pulled Garlington. “I knew he was tired when he went out there (for the seventh), but I figured I’d give him a chance to close it out.
“He got the first guy out, but after that four-pitch walk I decided to bring in Jeff.”
Harvill showed his coach made the right call as he induced a groundball from pinch-hitter Ross Adams.
The ball up the middle was initially bobbled by shortstop Evan Comeau, but he recovered, stepped on second to force out Harrison Hunter and then throw out Adams to end the game.
“He’s been good for us all year,” Harvey said of Harvill. “There was no doubt he’s the guy I was going to bring in in that situation.”
While the pitching was solid through both games, the offense exploded in the first game and had to scratch across a few in the second.
Austin Braddock got things going for UAM (20-10, 10-7) in the opener with a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning. Harding (16-11, 8-6) responded with three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead.
The Weevils, though, answered in the bottom of the frame highlighted by RBI doubles from Ben Agredano and Ray Johnson.
UAM took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth before blowing the game wide-open.
Braddock led off the frame with his second home run of the game to chase Harding starter Cameron Walker (2-2), who took the loss gave up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
The Bisons brought in Hunter Payne and the Weevils roughed the redshirt sophomore up in his only inning on the mound.
Payne faced nine batters and allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits.
“That’s kind of our offensive philosophy,” Harvey said. “We try and wait for the big inning, which when it happens can be pretty exciting.
“But we had a good approach at the plate all the day, especially considering Harding entered this weekend with the No. 1 staff in our conference.”
In the nightcap, Ray Johnson helped get the Weevils on the board in the second inning.
He led off the frame with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch before coming in to score on Bronson Gillam’s single.
In the next inning, UAM played a little small ball to tack on two more runs.
D’Marco Poindexter walked to open the frame. Alex Lang laid down a sacrifice bunt to get him to second, and Poindexter followed that up with a steal of third.
Poindexter scored on a double by Justin Hollis, who later scored on a wild pitch.
“We did some things we hadn’t really done before,” Harvey said. “We stole a couple of bases and laid down a few bunts.
“We wanted to put pressure on them and a couple of bunts they had trouble handling.”
An infield single by Comeau scored Gillam in the bottom of the sixth to give UAM a little breathing space heading into the final inning where Harvill helped slam the door.
UAM will go for their first GAC series sweep on the year when the teams conclude the three-game set on Saturday at 10 a.m., which is two hours earlier than originally scheduled because of the threat of rain. Even though UAM has yet to sweep a GAC series this year, Friday’s wins give the Weevils their fourth conference series win of the season.
“In this conference it’s huge,” Harvey said of the victories. “When you’ve got the top six teams just within a few games of each other, so winning a conference series is always big.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is home or away, it’s huge.”