Brian Johnson ECU Sports Information
East Central University
East Central University rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth and came away with a pulsating 5-4 Great American Conference baseball victory over Ouachita Baptist Sunday to close out a three-game series at Tiger Field.
ECU held a 2-1 advantage, heading into the top of the ninth, before OBU scored three runs of its own for a 4-2 lead.
ECU battled back when Gilbert Guardado drew a walk and Jonathan Ramos was hit by a pitch. Greg Hamrock then delivered a single to left field off a 0-1 delivery to score Guardado and pull the hosts within 4-3. That turned out to be the only hit of the inning for ECU.
Jeff Schmidt then executed a sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance Ramos and Hamrock to second and third respectively.
ECU’s Rick Hepworth was then intentionally walked to load up the bases and put a force-out situation everywhere. The next batter, Ethan Gold, picked up an RBI when he drew a walk off a 3-2 count to tie it up, and Chris Montgomery was also credited with an RBI as he was hit by a 3-1 pitch to score Hamrock for the game-winner.
OBU pitcher Zac Treece had kept ECU in check through eight innings but saw the wheels come off in the ninth. Treece, who went the 8.1 inning distance, scattered 11 hits, walked four and struck out three, but also plucked four ECU batters on the day.
ECU starting left-hander Jeremy Custers, despite a solid effort, wasn’t able to get the decision. He worked 7.1 innings and allowed the one earned run off eight hits with only two walks and eight strikeouts.
Eric Frederick faced two batters in the eighth which led to a pair of outs, and Heath Stuckey (3-2) came on in the ninth but allowed three OBU runs off four hits, despite two strikeouts.
A run-scoring single by Parker Norris tied up the contest at 2-all and Keegan Ghidotti hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center to give the visitors the slim 4-2 cushion.
ECU got multiple hits from its top three players in the lineup. Hamrock was 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI. Schmidt went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and Hepworth was 2-for-4.
OBU took a 1-0 lead in the third off Tom Ward’s RBI single.
However, the host Tigers tied it up in the bottom half of that frame off Schmidt’s RBI groundout which scored Ramos from third base. Hamrock’s one-out double set the stage for that score.
ECU took a 2-1 edge in the fifth when Ramos led off with a single, moved up to second off a wild pitch and ultimately scored off Schmidt’s single to right-center. Schmidt was thrown out on the play, trying to stretch it to second base.
Ghidotti went 3-for-5 with two doubles and drove in a pair of runs for OBU while Norris, Ward and Kurt Peppenhorst each had two hits in a losing cause.
OBU won the first two games by sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday by 6-2 and 5-1 scores.
ECU is scheduled to play a three-game GAC series at Arkansas Tech next weekend in Russellville, Ark. The two teams will play a 3 p.m. single game on Friday before battling in a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.