The Wildcats were white-hot at the plate during a weekend sweep of the visiting Northeastern State Riverhawks.
ACU recorded double-digit run totals in each of their three games scoring 13, 11, and 12 respectively after Coach Britt Bonneau switched around the defensive alignment for his Wildcats.
“It was one of those weekends where we had to start making a move to at least try to get back into contention and get into the conference tournament,” said Bonneau.
In the first game Friday night, the Wildcats used a 10-run explosion in the final two innings to complete the ACU comeback from three down in the eighth.
Aaron Oliver, who made the move to shortstop recently, hit his first home run of the season to pull ACU within one run in the seventh. Bryce Gerhardt put ACU in front later in the seventh with a two-run single that came with the bases loaded and two outs. Gerhardt went three for four on the night and knocked in five runs for the Wildcats.
“When Sky (Valenzuela) was down with a knee injury, we thought AO (Oliver) would give us more range over there so we made that move,” said Bonneau. “It’s worked out for us.”
Reliever Zach Sneed came on for the Wildcats in the seventh inning and earned the win after allowing just one earned run on three hits.
In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, ACU fought back and forth with the Riverhawks who managed to stay even with the Wildcats through two innings. Starter Kris Carlson allowed four runs on just five hits in the first inning and a third. Coach Bonneau turned to reliever Brent Bray in the second with two runners on base. Bray shut down Northeastern to the tune of one earned run in 3 2-3 innings on five hits. With the win, Bray moved to 2-1 on the season.
Sky Valenzuela made his first appearance on the mound as a Wildcat giving up no runs on no hits. He also struck out two Northeastern batters.
“Sky had pitched before and it seems like everyone is injured on our staff and so we decided to get him some innings,” said Bonneau. “He threw strikes and we aren’t getting that a lot from our bullpen so we were impressed.”
At the plate, first baseman Abe Williams torched the Riverhawks going 2 for 4 and driving in five runs for the Wildcats. After pulling ahead in the third inning on an RBI double by Oliver, who came into score on a wild pitch in the same inning, the Wildcats stayed ahead of the Riverhawks for the rest of the game.
“We all just felt real comfortable at the plate and when the sticks get hot for us we can put up big numbers,” said Williams.
The Wildcats completed the sweep of Northeastern in the second game of the doubleheader. Cameron Bankston reached on a lead-off triple in the first inning and ACU used three innings of three runs or more to double up the Riverhawks 12-6.
Oliver drove in three runs for the Wildcats while going three for four from the plate. Oliver’s lone out was the only time he failed to reach base during the doubleheader.
The Wildcats are scheduled for a make-up game this week against Delta State on Wednesday. The first pitch will be at 2:05 p.m.
“Every game we play from here on out is big. We can’t afford any big losses in series,” said Williams.