Despite posting three runs in the top of the first inning, the University of Arkansas at Monticello baseball team was unable to hold off Arkansas Tech to advance to the Great American Conference championship.
The Weevils scattered 11 hits in the contest, but could not push any more runs across after the first inning ultimately falling 4-3 Monday.
The Weevils got the offense rolling early against the Wonder Boys as Hudson Hopkins and Andrew Piraino led off the ballgame with back-to-back singles. Those hits set the table for a sacrifice fly by Jordan Johnson to score the game’s first run. Dylan Borman followed showing off his power launching a two-run blast over the left field wall giving UAM the early three-run lead.
Mason Philley got the start on the bump for the Weevils in the bottom of the frame. The Monticello native had a little trouble to start his day as ATU got a leadoff double and ultimately got one run back after a pair of wild pitches by Philley.
UAM put runners on base in each of the next three innings, but was unable to push anymore runs across.
After two scoreless frames on the mound for Philley, the Wonder Boys managed to cut the Weevils’ lead down to one with a solo home run in the fourth.
Grant Shepherd roped a one-out double in the sixth to try to swing the momentum back the UAM dugout, but he was ultimately left stranded at third to end the frame.
ATU took advantage of a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth working the runner to third on a pair of groundouts before tying the game when an error allowed the runner to score.
The Weevils turned to the bullpen in the seventh inning brining on Ojani Chacon to replace Philley. Chacon made quick work of the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a solo blast that put UAM behind for the first time in the contest.
In the bottom of the eighth, UAM had to turn back to the bullpen after back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Livan Cordova took over on the bump to retire the next three hitters to keep the Weevils’ deficit at one.
Shepherd put the tying run on base for the Weevils in the top of the ninth with a leadoff single, but UAM was unable to bring him around to score ultimately falling 4-3.
Piraino led the way for the Weevils offensively going 4-for-5 with a double and run scored. Borman’s only hit of the day was the biggest for UAM as he launched a two-run blast in the top of the first.
Philley worked well on the bump for UAM ending with a no decision after allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits and striking out four in 6.0 innings pitched.
Chacon (L, 1-3) ended with the loss after giving up the go-ahead home run in the seventh.
Cordova stepped in the retire three straight with two runners on in his only inning of work.
Mason Griffin (W, 2-2) picked up the win for ATU dealing 6.1 scoreless innings in relief.
Nick Kovar (S, 6) earned the save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
The Weevils end the year with a 22-18 record overall and 19-14 in GAC play. UAM won its final four league series to earn the five seed in the conference tournament.
Seven different players earned All-GAC recognition at the conclusion of the regular season. River Hunt, Johnson and Borman each earned First Team honors while Piraino and Philley landed All-GAC Second Team. Aaron Gaela was named to the GAC All-Defensive Team and Shepherd garner All-GAC honorable mention.
A pair of Weevils were recognized for their work in the classroom as well as Matt Lundh and Reed Odland achieved the Distinguished Scholar Athlete accolade, the league announced Monday.