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Wonder Boys on the road at nationally-ranked Southern Arkansas


The Arkansas Tech baseball team is back in Great American Conference action this weekend and are on the road for at three-game series at No. 22-ranked Southern Arkansas.
The series is slated to begin with a single nine-inning game on Friday night starting at 6 p.m. Saturday will close the series with a doubleheader (9-7) starting at 2 p.m.
The Wonder Boys and Muleriders have met 184 times historically in a series that dates back to 1914. In terms of the all-time series record, SAU holds a 116-68 lead over Tech.
The two teams met four times last season with a mid-week game at SAU and the weekend series at Tech. Tech would win the mid-week game 16-15, but would be swept in the series, losing the three games by a total of five runs.
The Wonder Boys enter this weekend series at Southern Arkansas with an overall record of 22-13 and are 13-8 in GAC play. This past weekend, the Wonder Boys won their series at home against Arkansas-Monticello as they bounced back from a one-run loss in game one to win the next two games.
Entering play against Southern Arkansas, the Wonder Boys are hitting .272 as a team (297-for-1,092) with 215 runs scored, 64 doubles, seven triples and 27 home runs.
Logan Schwenke currently leads the team in batting average at .337 (34-for-101). Schwenke has also been the top-power production bat in the lineup as he leads the team in slugging percentage at .683 thanks to eight doubles, three triples and seven home runs. His home run total leads the team, and he is also the team-leader in runs scored with 29. Nine other Wonder Boys have driven in at least 10 runs and three others have at least 20 driven in.
Keaton Ranallo is second on the team in home runs at five and leads the team in RBIs with 32. Markos Cabranes is next in homers with four while Christian Olea and Brendyn Bard have three and Grant Jones has two. Cole Dawson, Nick Jones and Sawyer Duddleston account for the other homers thus far with one apiece.
In terms of other extra-base hits, Olea and Ranallo are tied for the team-lead in doubles with nine while the triples are led by Schwenke with three.
On the mound, the Wonder Boys have a team ERA of 4.16 and have struck out 305 batters in 292.1 innings of work.
John Gray, Emilano Mata, and Jack Rector made starts this past weekend against Arkansas-Monticello and figure to be in the mix to start against Southern Arkansas. Gray currently has the lowest ERA among starters at 3.78. He also is 4-2 with 48 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work. All three weekend starters have registered at least 30 strikeouts thus far with Gray leading the group with 48 Ks.
Aside from those that have made starts, 12 other pitchers have taken the mound for the Wonder Boys in relief roles. Will Horton has the most relief appearances thus far with 17. He is 3-1 with two saves and has a 1.82 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. Grant Shahan has logged the most innings amongst prominent relievers with 35.1 to his credit. Shahan is second on the team in strikeouts with 43.
Leading the Wonder Boys once more is Dave Dawson. The all-time winningest coach in Tech Baseball history, Dawson enters his 15th year in the dugout for the Wonder Boys. In his previous 14 seasons, Dawson has guided amassed a 414-298 record. He has also had seven seasons with 30 or more wins which includes the 2014 season in which he led the team a program-record 44 wins and hosting rights for that year's Central Region Tournament.
Overall, Dawson is in his 19th year as a head baseball coach at the collegiate level as he spent four years as head coach at Kansas Wesleyan and totaled 118 wins. His combined win total at Tech and Kansas Wesleyan have him with a career record of 552-395.
Southern Arkansas enters this weekend series with Tech with a 23-11 overall record and a 15-6 mark in GAC play. This past weekend, the Muleriders swept their series on the road at Ouachita Baptist, winning 9-2 in the opener, 6-4 in the middle game 6-3 in 10 innings in the finale. Overall, the Muleriders are riding a four-game winning streak after they won their mid-week game against Arkansas-Monticello, 11-0 in seven innings.
Offensively, the Muleriders are hitting .290 as a team (316-for-1,090) with 271 runs scored, 59 doubles, nine triples and 45 home runs.
Will Richardson currently leads the team in batting average at .357 (45-for-126). Brandon Nicoll has provided the most power production thus far with a .662 slugging percentage thanks to eight doubles, and 11 home runs. Six other players have hit at least four home runs. The team-leader in RBIs is Richardson with 36 and second is Nicoll with 34. Five others have at least 20 RBIs.
On the mound, the Muleriders have a 3.84 team ERA and have struck out 268 batters in 272.0 innings of work.
Last weekend, the Muleriders used a weekend rotation of Jeremy Adorno, Mikel Howell and Tim Ruffino against Ouachita Baptist and figure to see to action in the same roles against Tech. Ruffino has the lowest ERA among the starters at 1.98 and is 4-1 with 31 strikeouts in 41.0 innings of work. Adorno is 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 55.1 innings while Howell is 5-1 with a 4.42 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 53.0 innings.
In addition to those starters, the Muleriders have used 15 other pitchers in relief roles. Hayden Oglesby has made the most relief appearances with 10. He is 2-3 with a 5.87 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 15.1 innings. Isaiah Haynes has four of the team's five saves. He is also 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 11.0 innings.
The Muleriders are led by Justin Pettigrew, who is in his eighth season as head coach at Southern Arkansas. In his time at SAU, Pettigrew is 268-117.