Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks baseball team won two of three against 2005 American Southwest Conference East division champion UT-Tyler in Tyler, Texas, in American Southwest Conference play over the weekend.
The Eagles improve to 13-16 overall and 5-7 in ASC play. Ozarks is in a two-way tie for sixth place. “Anytime you can beat the champion two of three at their place is good,” said head coach Jimmy Clark. “We’ve played pretty well since the East Texas Baptist series two weeks ago, but we finally broke through during the UT-Tyler series. We are tied for sixth place, but we are only two games out of first place. There is a lot of parity this year. There is not a lot of difference from top to bottom in this league. You have to battle every week.” Ozarks started the series Friday with a come-from-behind 7-5 win. Trailing 5-4 after six, the Eagles scored three runs in the top of the seventh and then Ozarks relief pitcher Tyler Gideon sealed the game by shutting down UT-Tyler, allowing only two hits in the final three innings. In the seventh, Ozarks got all three runs with two outs. Tim Renshaw collected two RBI when he singled in Caleb Hilton and Brian Heckmann, both of whom reached base on singles. Robby Finnell stole home to give Ozarks their third run. Ozarks had half of their 12 hits in the game in their four-run sixth inning. Kyle Hudson (5-2) received the win. He had three strikeouts. Gideon was effective in relief, striking out four of the 12 batters he faced. He picked up his first save of the year. Hilton went 3-for-5 in the game. Renshaw and Anthony Brandon had 2 RBI. Neil Christian’s RBI single with one out in the bottom of the seventh lifted UT-Tyler to a 1-0 victory over the Eagles in Saturday’s first game of their double-header. Neither team hit particularly well, combining for only 11 hits in the game, with Ozarks collecting six of those. UT-Tyler, however, came up with the game’s biggest hit that was the difference. Ozarks did have runners in scoring position in the fourth and the sixth inning, but UT-Tyler forced a pair of double plays to kill the rally. Curt Dixon (3-6) received the loss. Heckmann went 2-for-4. In the rubber match, Ozarks prevailed 6-4 thanks to a two-run fourth and a three-run fifth. The Eagles trailed 1-0 after three, but a Hilton bases loaded two-RBI double gave Ozarks a 2-1 lead. In the top of the fifth, pitcher Robby Finnell, who came in for starter Chase Hale in the second, helped his own cause by tripling with one out. Two batters later, Finnell scored on an error by the third baseman. Justin Brown then stepped to the plate and smashed a two-run homer to increase Ozarks’ lead to 5-1. It was Brown’s fourth home run of the year and the 17th of his career. Finnell (2-0) picked up the win. He had three strikeouts in four innings of work. Gideon received the save. Finnell went 3-for-4. Hilton and Brown had 2 RBI apiece. “Our pitching is better than I thought it would ever be,” said Clark. “Our defense was shaky early in the season, but we made some changes, and our defense has been very good. This weekend, we got some timely hits, and that’s the important thing. I don’t care what our batting average is. I want those hits when guys are in scoring position.” Ozarks will host LeTourneau University this weekend in a three-game series. Friday’s game begins at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday’s double-header starts at 12:00 p.m.