Weevils take key series


MONTICELLO — Southern Arkansas snapped Arkansas-Monticello’s streak of 14 straight Great American Conference wins with a 3-0 win in the seven-inning nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader.

UAM refused to let the loss sour an otherwise great weekend that began with a walkoff win Friday night and featured a 3-2 walkoff win in Saturday’s first game at Weevils Field.

“If you had told me coming in we’d win two out of three,” UAM coach John Harvey said. “I’d be pleased with that.

“Obviously, after winning the first two games you’d like to get the sweep.”

The fact that the series win — the fifth straight for the Boll Weevils — came against the No. 2 team in the Central Region makes this weekend’s performance all the more impressive.

UAM (33-13, 22-8 GAC) entered the regular season-ending series as the fourth-ranked team in the region with Minnesota State-Mankato, which split with the Weevils to open the season, sandwiched in between.

“It definitely helps us regionally,” Harvey said. “Them coming in ranked second and us ranked fourth.

“Don’t know if we’ll jump (SAU), though.”

Heading to the bottom of the ninth with a 2-0 lead in Saturday’s opener, it looked as though SAU (34-16, 18-12) would be evening the series.

UAM’s seniors had other ideas.

SAU starter Tyler Buchanan came out for the ninth looking for a complete-game shutout, but he quickly exited after walking senior Chad Miller and giving up a single to senior D’Marco Poindexter. Miller reached third on the hit and Poindexer moved up to second on the throw.

“D’Marco came through with a big hit,” Harvey said. “To get (Miller) to third was big.

“We had some good base running on the play, too.”

Blake Sullivan came on in relief and failed to record an out. Senior Tyler Caruthers greeted Sullivan with a two-run double to plate Miller and Poindexter.

Senior Justin Hollis followed with a walk as Sullivan made way for Preston Gray.

It looked as though the game would head to extra innings as Caruthers was thrown out at third on a failed sacrifice bunt and pinch hitter Corey Wood struck out.

Senior Alex Lang, though, assured the Weevils of a series victory with an RBI single to left field scoring Hollis and giving UAM its second walkoff win in less than 24 hours.

“I figured he would throw a fastball first pitch,” Lang said. “That’s what he threw and I hit it through the six hole and the rest is history.”

As the seventh batter in the inning, Lang knew if he were going to bat again it would be in a clutch spot.

“I knew that if I got up the game would be on the line,” he said. “Those guys before me did all work, though.

“All I did was finish it off.”

UAM couldn’t carry the momentum into the nightcap, though, as Osaka, Japan, native Yumezo Densaki spun a complete-game gem.

“Their guy did a heck of a job,” Harvey said of Densaki. “He pitched really well in a midweek game we played down there.

“We might see him next week, so we’re going to need to find an answer for him.”

Lang said the Weevils wouldn’t let the loss spoil their mood heading into the GAC tourney.

“The first thing we do is try to win a series,” he said. “Especially against a team as good as SAU we try to win two out of three.

“We did that, so we won’t be hanging our heads.”

Heading into Saturday’s games, UAM already knew it would be the No. 2 seed in next week’s GAC Tournament. The Weevils’ first-round opponent Southwestern Oklahoma State (24-21, 16-14) was not known until the completion of Saturday’s contests.

The Bulldogs, who lost two of three this year to the Weevils, earned the No. 5 seed in the six-team tourney by winning this weekend’s series 2-1 against Northwestern Oklahoma State.

The Weevils and the Bulldogs will play their opening-round game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Okla. The game will be the second of three first-round contests. No. 1 seed Arkansas Tech and No. 6 seed Ouachita Baptist will play at noon and third-seeded SAU and fourth-seeded Harding will face off at 7 p.m.

Last year, UAM reached the tournament final but fell to SAU, 11-2, in the title game.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better regular season,” Harvey said of this year. “… This is a pretty special group. We hope to keep it going.

“We won three games last year (in the GAC tournament) and that was fun. I hope we can win one more this time.”