Freshman outfielder Trevor Rucker went 5-for-5 with four runs scored on Thursday evening as he helped pace an 11-run, 14-hit attack by the Southern Arkansas baseball team en route to an 11-4 win against GAC-rival Arkansas-Monticello in the opening round of the Central Region Tournament held on the campus of Arkansas Tech. The win advances the Muleriders (39-17) in the winner's bracket of the tournament and sets up a 7 p.m. matchup on Friday night with last year's national runner-up Minnesota State-Mankato. MSU defeated Emporia State in the first game of the day by a score of 11-5. In Thursday's game, the Muleriders found themselves down 1-0 early after the Boll Weevils (36-16) scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning off of SAU starter Dylan Lynn. In the bottom of that frame, however, the Muleriders' offense would put Lynn on the plus side of the start as they scored twice to take a one-run lead, 2-1. In that inning, Carver Rademacher and Zack Costa would each have RBI singles. An inning later, the Muleriders would break the game open as they scored five runs on four hits to take a 7-1 lead. In that inning, the Muleriders would get a bases-loaded walk to Jon Phillips, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to Jackson McCurdy, a RBI single up the middle by Costa, and a two-RBI double down the left-field line by Josh Rodriguez. The Boll Weevils would answer back with two runs in the top of the third, but a RBI single by Phillips in the bottom of the third maintained a comfortable lead for the Muleriders, 8-3. A run by the Boll Weevils in the top of the sixth made it a four-run game, 8-4, but a three-run bottom of the seventh by Muleriders put the game on ice. In that bottom of the seventh, Rucker would score on an error by the UAM first baseman, which was then followed by a two-run homerun out to left field by Rademacher; his ninth of the year. Lynn would earn the win to move to 11-1 on the year after he worked eight complete innings, scattering nine hits, allowing four runs (three earned), walking none and striking out four.
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