Hot bats power Statesmen over Tigers

It was a hitter’s day at Harvey Stadium-Ferriss Field, as No. 10 Delta State University slugged past Ouachita Baptist University 20-13 on Tuesday night.

Emil Ellis and Justin Nussbaum led Delta State (36-7) with three hits each, and Jason Popovich added three RBIs in the leadoff spot. Melvin Frazier came on in relief for the Statesmen, picking up the win in two innings pitched.

Tyler Riebock finished the night with two hits for Ouachita (13-34), including a three-run homer to trim Delta State’s lead. Preston Speers, Cade McBride and Ty Owens also collected two hits each for the Tigers. Noah Fowler was charged with the loss after giving up five earned runs in the second inning.

Zach Shannon, who recently broke the Delta State’s school record for home runs in a season with 27, was unable to add to the total. His finished the game with a hit and an RBI.

The Statesmen, who have now won 16 of their last 17 games, started the scoring off in the bottom of the first inning after a two-out error plated the first run of the night. Delta State left two runners on, and Ouachita responded in the top of the second inning with four runs, capped off by Jakahari Howell’s two-RBI triple with two outs. The Statesmen returned the favor in the bottom half of the inning, pushing across six runs off six hits and reclaiming the lead 7-4.

The Tigers added to the offensive showing in the third inning by scoring four more runs off two-RBI singles from McBride and Aaron Studdard to take the lead 8-7.

The biggest scoring inning came in the bottom of the third when Delta State drove in seven runs, taking the lead for good. The Statesmen finished the inning with 13 plate appearances. Walks and miscues plagued the Tigers in the third.

Delta State tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning, pushing the score to 18-8. Ouachita started off the inning with a throwing error – the Tigers’ third error of the ballgame – and the Statesmen capitalized by extending the lead to 10.

After Delta State added two more runs in the sixth inning, Ouachita attempted to start a late rally. The seventh inning saw the Tigers cut into the deficit with Riebock’s home run over the right field fence, the lone home run for both teams in the game. Ouachita scored five runs in the seventh, but not before the damage was already done.

The Tigers went quietly in the final two frames, as the Statesmen picked up the win 20-13, their 36th victory of the season.

The Tigers and Statesmen played earlier in the season in Arkadelphia, as then-No. 1 Delta State escaped with a 3-2 road win.

Ouachita will finish the season across the street against Henderson State University. The final conference series of the season is set to begin at Clyde Berry Field on Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m.

Delta State will cap off its season with a three-game series at home against Mississippi College. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m.

By Will Johnson, sports editor

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