University of Arkansas at Monticello senior right fielder Corey Wood hit two three run home runs and racked up a total of seven runs batted in to highlight a 19-5, seven-inning win over Harding on Friday in the first game of the Great American Conference Championship Tournament Opening Round.
Wood, recently named the GAC Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Tino Martinez D2 Player of the Year Award, also had an RBI single to his credit to go along with three run shots in the bottom of the first and fifth innings, respectively.
Harding (24-27) looked to be in control early with three runs in the top of the first inning. However, the Weevils (32-14) were quick about getting back to an even score in the bottom of the frame.
Senior shortstop Evan Comeau was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and senior left fielder Kevin Fitzpatrick reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in Comeau moving to second on an error. Wood followed with a long home run to right field on the very first pitch he saw from Harding starter Andrew Fiddler (5-7).
The Weevils then sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second inning, in what ended up being a seven-run rally for UAM. Senior catcher Travis Steinke and senior first baseman Mitchell Dornblut had back-to-back RBI doubles to account for the majority of the scoring in the inning.
Harding cut into its 10-3 deficit with a two-run home run from Alan Copeland. The Bisons had runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings, but were held scoreless, while UAM extended its lead.
The Weevils plated four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by Steinke’s second two-run double of the game, and RBI singles from Fitzpatrick and Wood.
Wood’s second three-run shot highlighted a five-run fifth inning, that also had an RBI single from junior designated hitter Guy Halbert. Wood now has 20 home runs on the season, further cushioning his UAM and GAC single-season records. He also broke UAM’s single-season record for RBI, now with 67 to break Jamie Tucker’s record of 60 in the 1999 season.
Senior Ben Aldridge (4-2) earned the win in relief, allowing no runs on only one hit in nearly two innings.
The Weevils matched their season-high in hits in the victory with 20. Junior Nick Piraino went 4-for-5. Wood was 3-for-4. Steinke was 3-for-5. Comeau was 3-for-3. Dornblut was 2-for-5. Sophomore center fielder Brian Ray was 2-for-4. Halbert was 2-for-4.
Game two of the best-of-three series is set for Saturday at noon. If necessary, game three will be played immediately afterward.