Clarksville, Ark.--Freshman right fielder Robby Finnell blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the Eagles (11-3, 0-0) to a 12-10 victory over Hardin-Simmons University (5-5, 0-0) in the second game of their double-header on Saturday afternoon and gave Ozarks a three-game sweep of their American Southwest Conference West division opponent.
With the score tied at 10-10 going into the bottom of the ninth and with two outs, Anthony Brandon reached base on an error to give Finnell an opportunity to be the hero. Finnell did just that on the first pitch thrown his way sending a shot over the left field fence much to the delight of a boisterous Ozarks’ student section sitting beyond the left field fence. It was Finnell’s second homer of the season. He ended the game 3-for-5 with 4 RBI. The Eagles appeared to put away one of the ASC West division’s preseason favorites early, holding a 4-0 lead after the first inning. Hardin-Simmons, however, had other ideas as they took a 6-5 lead at the end of the fourth. Ozarks came back in the sixth to score three runs on four hits to take a 8-7 advantage. The Cowboys wouldn’t give up though and scored one run in the top of the seventh to even the contest. Ozarks answered once again in the bottom of the eighth with two runs when both Chris Harrell and Justin Brown each walked in a run. Hardin-Simmons eventually tied the game in the top of the ninth at 10-10 before Finnell provided the heroics for Ozarks. Ozarks collected 15 hits in the contest and ended the three-game series with 41. Brett Hays went 4-for-5 with three RBI in the game. Tyler Pickett (1-0) received the win after pitching the final inning and recording one strikeout. Starter Curt Dixon pitched five innings and tallied six strikeouts. The Eagles used a strong pitching performance from junior right-hander Brian Heckmann and a potent offensive attack to oust the Cowboys 8-4 in the first game. Hardin-Simmons was the first to get on the board when they scored one run in the top of the first inning. However, that was the only lead they would hold. Ozarks scored two runs in the third inning to take a 2-1 advantage. The Eagles recorded three consecutive hits in that inning with Tyler Gideon leading off with a double. Caleb Hilton followed with a single and Brown singled through the left side to knock in Gideon. A sacrifice fly by Todd Koch to score Hilton gave Ozarks their second run of the inning. The fourth inning also proved to be productive for the Eagles as they put three more runs on the board. Gideon recorded an RBI and Brown slapped a double to the right field gap to score Gideon and Pickett, who reached base on a walk. The fireworks continued for the Eagles in the sixth when Hilton smashed a two-run homer and Brown recorded sacrifice fly to give Ozarks three insurance runs and a 8-3 lead. Heckmann kept the Cowboys’ offense off-balance for the game’s entirety with a variety of pitches and only allowed five hits. Ozarks totaled ten hits in the contest. Four players collected two hits in the game, including Hilton, Brown, Gideon and Hays. Brown had a team-best 3 RBI. Heckmann (4-1) pitched six solid innings and struck out four to pick up the win. Ozarks will travel to Clinton, Mississippi, to face Mississippi College in a three-game ASC East division series beginning on March 11 with one nine-inning contest. The two teams will play a double-header on March 12.