Photo Courtesy: SAU Athletics (Mike Jones)
ENID, Okla. (GAC) - Southern Arkansas's David Harris, the Great American Conference's Player of the Year hit a pair of home runs and GAC Freshman of the Year Timothy Buchanan held the previously red-hot Arkansas-Monticello offense in check as the Muleriders beat the Boll Weevils, 11-2 in Monday's finale from David Allen Memorial Ballpark to earn a return appearance in the GAC Baseball Championship title game.
Harris hit a solo home run to left field in the fifth inning and followed up with a three-run, inside-the-park shot to right center one inning later. The second home run came in the middle of a six-run inning for SAU (39-15) - a rally in which the home run accounted for the only hit of the inning. He recorded the first multi-home run game in the two-year history of the GAC Championships.
Harris, who entered the evening's contest with just one hit in nine at bats at the GAC Championships, finished 3-for-4 with five RBI. He also drove in a run in the third inning with a single. Ryan Dardenne added a two-run home run for the SAU attack. He scored three times in the contest. Jason Dahl also scored twice while driving in two.
For the Boll Weevils (31-19), after scoring 42 runs on 58 hits in its previous three games - all victories - their lone runs came in the first and ninth innings. Taylor Eaves went 3-for-3 with an RBI. He increased his average at the GAC Championships to .538 (7-for-13). Bobby Bryan started for UAM and took the defeat.
Buchanan allowed just a single run over 8.0 innings of work to improve to 9-1. He struck out seven and threw 144 pitches. In SAU's two victories on Monday, the Muleriders' two starting pitchers - Buchanan and Jon Mark Abbey - combined to go 17.0 innings, allow only one earned run and 12 base hits. The opposition hit only .203 off the two All-GAC starters.
The Muleriders will face the winner of Tuesday's first game - Harding and Arkansas-Monticello - in the title game, slated for a 3:30 p.m. first pitch. SAU will attempt to win its third-straight conference tournament title. The Muleriders won the 2011 Gulf South Conference title and last year's inaugural GAC title.