East Central walks off against Henderson State

Mar. 26—After dropping both ends of the doubleheader Saturday, the East Central University baseball team used a walk-off RBI single by Dione Allen to defeat Henderson State 8-7 Sunday at Ken Turner Field to avoid the Great American Conference sweep.

ECU snapped a seven-game losing skid and improved to 6-26 overall and 3-15 in conference play. Henderson State left town at 16-15 and 11-7.

The Reddies won the series opener 8-6 and shut out the Tigers 11-0 in Game 2.

"It was a good team win," said ECU head coach Kevin Paxson. "I was really happy with the way the boys responded after Game 2. It all starts on the mound, and Cal Birchfield came out competing like he always does to set the tone. Beau Driggers came in relief and pitched like he is capable of and I had no doubt Dione Allen would come through at the end. Anytime you play team baseball and get a win, it is a great day. I am really proud of all of our guys and hopefully, this win can get us rolling."

Despite Bryan Terry's commendable performance on the mound, pitching 6.1 innings and striking out 10 batters, he took the loss in game one while Chat Hayes suffered the defeat in Game 2, pitching 1.2 innings and giving up four earned runs and five total. Clayton Solomon, Justin Chitty, Price Daube, and Jacob Poff handled the final innings of each game.

Game 3, however, saw ECU get off to a hot start, trailing 2-0 after the first inning but exploding for six runs on six hits in the following inning to establish a firm 6-2 lead.

Gage Boatman initiated the Tigers' scoring with an RBI single to center field to plate Chris Griffis before Tanner Collins' hit to right center scored Kale Williams to knot the score 2-2. Tyler Akers' 2 RBI single to right field then drove in Collins and Boatman to take the lead 4-2, and after coming up to the plate for the second time in the inning, Griffis capped off the rally with a 2 RBI single to center field, plating Christian Whitaker and Akers to extend ECU's lead to 6-2.

The Reddies gradually began to chip away at the deficit, adding two runs in the fourth inning to narrow the gap to 6-4, but Britton Sperry's RBI up the middle in the fifth pushed the Tigers back out 7-4.

Despite maintaining control for the majority of the game, the home-standing Tigers relied on the ninth inning to finish off the Reddies as Henderson managed to sneak in three runs to tie the game 7-7 in the eighth inning.

After escaping the top of the ninth thanks to Beau Driggers striking out the final batter with the bases loaded, the Tigers capitalized in the home half, beginning with a lead-off single from Austin Wood to put the winning run on base.

Bladen Biner came in to pinch run, and after a sacrifice bunt from Kale Williams advanced him to second base, Dione Allen delivered a two-out, RBI single to walk it off for the Tigers.

Cal Birchfield didn't factor into the decision but had a quality start in his seven innings that kept ECU in the game. Beau Driggers executed his job in relief, shutting down Henderson in the final two innings with four strikeouts and just two hits to earn his first win of the season.

Christian Whitaker and Chris Griffis led at the plate over the weekend, with Whitaker securing five hits and two RBIs while Griffis collected four hits and an impressive five RBIs.

The ECU baseball team will be back at home at 2 p.m. today, hosting Southern Nazarene University.

Note: Ada News Sports Editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.