It was an instant classic they’d be talking about for years to come and the Muleriders are made for the time being. Number one Isaiah Hines made his debut to the fourth hit he faced at the bottom of the ninth inning near the left field line as sophomore Chris Lyles tracked down the contact in match number 27, flipped back and then rushed onto the field to join the celebration as he capped South Arkansas has the fiercest round nine race most of them will ever experience.
After their 11-6 defeat at the top of Part Nine on Saturday afternoon in the second installment of the NCAA Division II Central Super Regional from Walker Field at Goodheart Field, the Muleriders needed another regional rally after the season to stop the active Augustana team eager to force “if necessary.” To determine the district representative for the DII Baseball Tournament in June. Year 6 coach Justin Pettigrew’s club engineered a furious comeback by applauding seven games with two opponents highlighted by a three-game green light from rookie batsman Brett McGee in the top half of the game to take a 13-11 lead. Which would hold steady as Haynes quickly worked the bottom half to secure the biggest win in the program’s 26-year history as an NCAA member.
There is a backlog. Then there’s the cheerful pile of dugout-empty dogs that ensued down the shooting hill at Goodheart Field right after “F7 LL” sent the standing-room crowd just into a frenzy. Mess. Southern Arkansas defenders enthusiastically joined their teammates on the lawn as white jerseys streamed onto the field from the dugout and alongside them in spirit were players, coaches and team members of talented teams from years past and “almost” seasons filled with frustration and disappointment as the Muleriders finally punched through with a punch. Judge to secure his first trip to Cary, North Carolina.
For the 61st time in the program’s history, the Muleriders have crossed the mark ten times in the post-season competition and this uninterrupted production came behind 15 hits of which a third happened in the ninth inning alone, while another three went for additional bases. The three-run Homer McGee was the fourth time the Muleriders made five this season after the NCAA season ended, with the Muleriders notching five runs in the final. or more in the seventh, eighth or ninth rounds.
In season nine, new season long hit show Brandon Nichol continued, hitting his 82nd campaign-leading goal, to lead the frame. With one exit, young Ty Manning was swooned to put the contestants in first and second, but getting out of the house would put Southern Arkansas on his end out of Game Two. Lyles was hit on the field to load the bases, and Junior Conner Allen, the Friday night champ, once again threw a left field RBI song overshadowing Nicoll and keeping the bases full for rookie Riley Orr.
Augustana went into pole position for the second time in as many rounds and Orr welcomed the new loyalist single-handedly two-part in the middle who chased home Manning and Lyles and made SAU within two runs of the lead at 11-9. The hitting procession continued as sophomore Chris Sutton sorted through the right-hand side to score Allen and clear the way for McGee.
McGee, the ninth hitter on the SAU board in the inning, took 1-0 off the field from Augustana’s Caleb Sarri and bludgeoned if you ran out of billboards in the right field in his 16th home run this season and an explosion that will be hailed in the Mulerider baseball annals forever.
The southern Arkansas sun was out and so were the fans as attendance numbers for the second day in a row approached 900. SAU jumped to an early advantage with a field-reversing RBI song from debutant Jacob Machuka that graded McGee and opened the scoring with one at the top of the first half. The lead grew to 3-0 after SAU’s trip to the plate in third place. McGee’s first home runs of the day overcame the turn in a big way as the solo shot quickly left the right field to give SAU a 2-0 start.
Nicole followed by shooting a song on the right side and had a lot of stuff left in the tank as he moved to second on blow after blow to Manning, advanced to third on the fly and then robbed the house where Manning was forced to run. down which resulted in Nicole slipping his left arm just below the mark for an early third major run.
The Muleriders threw the ball to junior White Maar and worked through 4.2 innings scattered ten strokes and absorbing six earned runs with three strokes. Face only one above the minimum during the first two halves of play.
Auji scored twice in third place and the two traded offs in the fourth round where Nicole scored a key goal and briefly made it 4-2 before CAF snatched again in the lower half. The Vikings warmed up at the board in fifth with five hits and a foul that led to four runs and a 7-4 advantage. SAU loyalist Chance Poulter took on Mar with two wins in fifth, scored the final and then came clean 1-2-3 in sixth.
The southern Arkansas sprinter was stranded in scoring in the seventh and after the stretch, he hit Augustana for a single run against Poulter and added another one against Reed Osborne who entered the frame with two rejects and bases loaded. Osborne was stranded by loaded bases and had excellent defensive play behind him as Sutton scored the final in a diving layover and throw first to limit damage.
The ninth had fireworks, but the fuse was lit on the eighth for Muleriders. Tucker Burton led the first half by becoming only the third player in program history to hit 20 home runs in a season, taking 20 quickly out to the right field and serving as the fifth round of the game for SAU as the deficit ended four. Lyles moved around the base tracks in the frame when he hit one hit, moved to second on a pass ball, took third on the ground and scored after one shot from Orr into the right center field as Augie’s lead was cut short to 9-6.
SAU ran into trouble again in the eighth as a home run pushed the lead to five at 11-6, but when you’re on the threshold of fate you sometimes have to hit the door and nothing was more evident than that seven-stroke effort for the Mullerriders in four Double hits in the visiting half of the ninth.
Osborne took the win, his fourth of the season and he tackled Hines for the fifth and third time in the postseason. McGee and Nicoll each scored three hits, while Allen and Orr followed with two. McGee scored three times and offered Nicole, Lyles, and Orr twice. McGee’s four RBI and Orr’s three RBI teams highlighted an afternoon that saw SAU set the record for the RBI Singles Season Program with 537 surpassing the 2010 team’s mark of 530. One season, the team’s current team season totals are in the rounds Recorded and total bases are the second ever in a season and are closed in the program’s records.
Southern Arkansas’s 46 wins entering the National Championship were tied for third in a single season in the program’s history. For the first time in program history, the Muleriders will play in June as the DII Baseball Tournament begins June 4-11 at the USA National Baseball Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Seven more regional champions will join Southern Arkansas and the eight teams will be reconstituted to form the Double Elimination Segment. Information regarding the National Sowing, Opening Match, tickets and merchandise will be made available at www.MuleriderAthletics.com.