Minnesota State bests top-seed Arkansas Tech, to play in regional final
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. -- Third-seeded Minnesota State eliminated top-seed Arkansas Tech with a 5-2 win on Saturday as the Mavericks scored all five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to advance to the NCAA Central Region championship game for the third straight season.
The victory elevated the Purple and Gold to 44-9. ATU's season comes to an end with an overall record of 44-12.
Arkansas Tech strung together four consecutive one-out base hits in the top of the first inning capped by a RBI single to centerfield by Zac Johnson giving the Wonder Boys a one-run lead after a half inning of play.
From there righthander Mathias Butala and Tech righthander Trent Armstrong fired four scoreless innings each until the Mavericks capitalized on two Wonder Boy errors in the bottom of the fifth. Connor McCallum reached on a throwing error and Parker Sullivan laid down a bunt single, before both advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Todd Standish scored McCallum with a fielder's choice to the shortstop, Max Waletich plated Standish on a RBI single to centerfield extending MSU a 2-1 lead.
Minnesota State padded the advantage with three additional tallies in the bottom of the sixth. Mike Andries began the scoring when he belted his third home run of the year, a two-run shot, over the fence in right field. Sullivan drew a two-out walk and stole second base before scoring when a groundball went under the glove of the Wonder Boy shortstop giving the Mavericks a four-run cushion.
The Wonder Boys cut the deficit to 5-2 with a run in the top of the eighth on a RBI double to centerfield by Kris Ayers. Matt Geislinger relieved Butala in the top of the ninth and proceeded to strike out one in a perfect inning securing the win and his fifth save of the season.
Butala (5-2) scattered eight hits with three strikeouts and two earned runs over 8.0 innings, while Armstrong (7-1) surrendered seven hits and five runs (two earned) with a trio of strikeouts across 5.2 frames on the hill.
Andries finished one-for-three with a home run and game-high two RBI, while Sullivan went two-for-two with a run and a stolen base. Waletich added a two-of-four performance with a RBI.