From Harding University
Four Harding errors led to four unearned runs and the Bisons fell 7-3 to Southern Arkansas in the winners' bracket final at the Gulf South Conference Tournament on Sunday at USA Stadium.
Harding fell to 39-11 with the loss and will meet West Florida, the No. 1-ranked team in Division II, Monday at 1 p.m. The loser of that game will be eliminated. The winner will meet the winner of Southern Arkansas and Arkansas Tech on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Southern Arkansas (35-13) won its 13th straight game after falling twice to Harding in Searcy the weekend of April 9-10.
The key play of the game came in the Southern Arkansas half of the fourth inning. With one out and runners on first and third, Jason Dahl laid down a bunt that Harding third baseman Jason Nappi fielded. Nappi threw wide of first base and the runner scored from third.
When Nappi fielded the ball, no one covered third base, and the base runner from first, Chris Harrison, sprinted for third. Harding first baseman Billy Ninemire attempted to throw to left fielder Anthony Guglielmi, who came running in to cover third, but his throw was wild, allowing Harrison to score and Dahl to come all the way around to third. Dahl later scored on an infield ground out to make the score 3-1.
Southern Arkansas scored two more in the fifth, and another Harding error in the sixth yielded two more unearned runs. The Muleriders led 7-1 after six.
Harding scored two in the seventh on a Ninemire RBI single to right and Nappi's run-scoring triple to right center. The Bisons cut the lead to three with a run on another Ninemire hit, his fourth of the game, in the ninth.
Ninemire was 4-for-4 with a run and two RBI. He became only the second Bison with four hits in a GSC Tournament game, joining Will McDonald, who had four hits against Alabama-Huntsville in 2009.
Harding sophomore Logan Holthaus (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing six runs (three earned) on five hits in five innings.
Ziggie Vanderwall (6-2) went 6 2/3 innings for the win. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits and struck out nine.