It took an eighth-inning rally, but Central Arkansas Christian got a big 7-4A conference baseball win at Arkadelphia on Monday, 5-4.
Behind the arm of Joey Pinney, Ryan Stauder’s Mustangs built a 4-1 lead by the seventh inning, but an error and a couple of key Badger hits tied the game to force extra innings. In the eighth, CAC scored on a passed ball to take the lead and had runners on second and third with one out but left those stranded.
Jack Thomas took the mound for the extra inning and retired three Badgers to get the save.
"We’ve finished just behind Arkadelphia the last couple of years, so this was a big win for us tonight," Stauder said while en route back from Arkadelphia. "They’ve been one of the better teams in the conference."
Jack Partlow went 3-for-4 with a walk, single, double and triple. He had two RBIs. Dylan Huckaby went 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Pinney gave up six hits, one walk and no unearned runs while striking out nine in seven innings.
The Mustangs moved to 6-7 overall and 3-1 in conference play. They’ll play host to conference games against Bauxite on Friday and Malvern on Monday, April 8 and travel to Harding Academy on Tuesday, April 9.
Two more conference wins this week would put them in good position in the league race.
"I don’t really know what to expect," Stauder said. "I know Bauxite and Malvern played each other close. We probably should beat them, but they’re good enough that they can come up, like Arkansas Baptist, to beat us if we don’t play our best game.
"Arkadelphia should be the toughest team we play in the conference, but if we take care of business from here on out, we should get the No. 1 seed."
Last week, the Mustangs fell to Arkansas Baptist in their first game following Spring Break, 3-2, and beat Nashville, 4-2.
In seven innings against Baptist, Pinney allowed three runs (one earned), walked two and struck out 10.
"He pitched well enough for us to win, for sure, but we committed five errors, which killed us," Stauder said. "We were missing five starters."
Chase Dowell and Pinney each went 2-for-3; Pinney scored two runs.
"Joey did a good job keeping it close," Stauder said.
Against Nashville, Pinney went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. Partlow was 2-for-4. Dowell also had a couple of hits. Ryan Faulkner had a home run; Pinney recorded two RBIs; Landon Hearnes had an RBI double.
Hearnes got the win, allowing three hits, one unearned run and four walks while striking out three in six innings. Thomas got the save with an inning’s work.