Baseball took the field for the first time since the Southland conference tournament this past weekend.
The series featured four games versus the North Dakota State Bison and a Saturday doubleheader of seven and nine innings. The Wildcats ultimately found themselves on the short end of the stick, going 1-3 in the series.
It is easy to draw comparisons between the two teams. Last season, both started with a mid-conference poll ranking but found themselves towards the top at the end.
NDSU found themselves in the Stanford regional, where they would be eliminated. This season though, both teams feature returning lineups of veteran players.
Game one of the series featured offensive heroics from the wildcats scoring two runs in the top of the first and then at the bottom of the second. The Bison responded with three runs, including a booming right-field home run.
Ultimately a wild pitch would seal NDSUs fate, with ACU sophomore shortstop Bash Randle of Rockwall scoring from third. From there, ACU’s slugging graduate right fielder Colton Eager of North Richland Hills hit a cue shot double into left field, scoring junior catcher Mitchell Dickson of Flower Mound, who had advanced on the wild pitch.
ACU’s closer Tanner Riley who had come in at the top of the seventh, shut down the Bison in two and a third innings of work—in the 9th, working out of a 3-0 count to strike out the game’s final batter.
Saturday, the doubleheader featured a 1:05 p.m. nine-inning game and a 4:05 p.m. seven-inning game. Game one would result in a 7-4 loss after two three-run innings from NDSU but included the first home run of the season, a two-run shot from sophomore second baseman Brett Hammit of Nixa, Missouri.
Game three was a seven-inning shutout with NDSU sophomore pitcher Evan Sankey throwing five of those innings. However, the Wildcats still managed six hits, stranding six runners, setting up a crucial game four.
Game four took place Sunday; it was clear that both teams had hot bats early on. NDSU put up three runs in the first, with the Wildcats responding with a three bottom of the second, including a home run from junior third baseman Bryson Hill of Fort Worth.
Fielding difficulties would begin the downfall of the Wildcats with a missed throw and a wild pitch scoring three bison in the third. However, in the bottom of the fourth ACU, junior outfielder Grayson Tatrow of Mansfield hit a three-run home run to tie it at 7.
However, wild pitches will continue to haunt the Wildcats, with two runs scoring on wild pitches in the eighth and ninth innings. In the ninth, a two-out bases-loaded rally would come short for the Wildcats, dropping the final game 10-7.
The Wildcats will continue their homestand in a four-game series with the Big-10s Michigan State Spartans this weekend. The Friday game will be streaming on ESPN+ with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. at Crutcher Scott Field.