Tigers get Sunday split with Southwestern

Mar. 14—Following a setback in Saturday's matchup, the East Central University baseball team bounced back in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader against Southwestern, emerging victorious with a final score of 7-5 before falling 6-2 in the series finale at Ken Turner Field.

The win for ECU was the club's third in its last five outings. The Tigers now stand at 5-21 overall and 2-10 in Great American Conference play. Southwestern left town at 15-8 and 7-5.

Southwestern 12, ECU 2

In the series opener, the Tigers fell victim to an explosive Bulldogs offense, which surged ahead with 12 unanswered runs.

ECU was able to get itself on the scoreboard thanks to Nick Blankenship's two-RBI double that drove in Tyler Akers and Tanner Collins to cut the lead to 7-2, but a five-run effort by SWOSU in the eighth inning secured the run-rule win.

Tyler Akers went 2-for-2 at the plate while Taner Collins, Nick Blankenship, and Colton Schaper-Kotter added one hit each.

Bryan Terry took the loss on the mound in his seven-inning outing, allowing nine runs, seven of those earned, on 10 hits while striking out five.

East Central 7, Southwestern 5

Game 2 saw a different Tiger team as they rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to erupt for seven runs in the bottom of the second inning, propelling them to the end.

Kale Williams, Gage Boatman, and Britton Sperry all led off with singles before Krew Taylor's RBI-single drove in Williams while Tyler Akers' two-RBI double to center field scored Sperry and Boatman to make it 3-2.

Then, Nick Blankenship followed with a two-RBI double of his own to score Taylor and Akers to extend the Tiger lead to 5-2. SWOSU brought in a new pitcher to stop the damage, but Christian Whitaker powered a shot through right field, allowing Blankenship to score before the Tigers came back to their lead-off hitter, Kale Williams — a Latta High School product — who plated Whitaker for ECU's 7-2 lead.

After the second inning, the Tigers had already racked up 10 hits.

SWOSU slowly chipped away at the deficit, adding two runs in the third inning and one in the top of the ninth inning, but Tiger pitcher Cal Birchfield finished what he started, shutting down the final Bulldog batter with a strikeout to seal the 7-5 game two victory.

Birchfield picked up his first career win as a Tiger in a complete game nine-inning effort, allowing five runs on 12 hits while striking out seven.

Britton Sperry led ECU at the plate, going 4-for-5 while Tanner Collins, Nick Blankenship, Kale Willams, and Krew Taylor had two hits apiece.

Southwestern 6, ECU 2

The series finale was closely contested as the score remained knotted until late in the game.

ECU struck first in the bottom of the second inning after Kale Williams' RBI single to center field scored Christian Whitaker for the early 1-0 lead. However, SWOSU leveled the score in the next frame and eventually took over the lead in the fifth inning with two runs scored for a 3-1 advantage.

The Tigers responded quickly in the next inning adding a run off of Tyler Akers' triple to center field to cut the deficit to 3-2, but ECU failed to further capitalize on offense while the Bulldogs extended their lead in the seventh, resulting in the 6-2 loss.

Tyler Akers, Christian Whitaker, and Britton Sperry each had multiple hits in the game with two while Akers and Kale Williams added the RBIs.

Chat Hayes took the start on the mound and the loss, going 6.1 innings allowing six runs on 10 hits.

The East Central baseball team travels to Arkadelphia, Arkansas for a weekend GAC series with Ouachita Baptist. A single game is set for 3 p.m. Friday with a Saturday doubleheader slated for noon.

Note: Ada News sports editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.