By David Salley
HSU Sports Information
MAGNOLIA — Henderson State racked up 16 hits and got five RBIs from Kaden Argenbright to defeat No. 6 seed Northeastern State 11-6 and advance to the winner’s bracket at the 2022 NCAA DII Central Regional Tournament.
The win was the eighth all-time for the Reddies (39-15) at the NCAA Tournament and gives them a date on Friday night with the winner of Thursday’s contest between No. 2 seed Southern Arkansas and No. 7 seed Washburn. HSU will face either the Muleriders or the Ichabods at 6 p.m. with the winner needing just one more victory to advance to the Super Regional round.
In the opening game of the regional, the bats came alive for the Reddies. Henderson out-hit the RiverHawks 16-7 and put 27 men on base in the win. NSU, who entered the contest leading the nation in home runs and hitting .330 as a club, was limited to a 7-for-30 showing at the plate.
Argenbright, who was moved to the clean-up spot for the first time this season, came up big for HSU and drove in five runs on three hits. The second baseman had a double and a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Cade Tucker, who hit lead-off for the first time this spring, also had three hits, while Bryson Haskins collected three RBIs on a three-run homer in the sixth.
Spencer Taack earned a no-decision for the Reddies in his 15th start. Taack pitched 5.2 innings, allowed five runs on four hits and struck out five Northeastern batters. Brayden Bebee got the win in relief by going the last 3.1 innings and giving up just one run on three hits. Taack and Bebee were the only two pitchers Henderson used in the victory.
With the game knotted at 2-2 in the fourth, HSU grabbed the upper hand by scoring three runs on five hits to take a 5-2 lead. A triple from Jacob Carroll set up the inning’s first run and Argenbright’s two-run blast proved to be the big blow in the frame.
The RiverHawks chased Taack in the fifth with a two-out rally which plated three runs and tied the game at 5-5. The Reddies immediately grabbed the momentum back in the bottom half of the inning, as Haskins’ no-doubt homer to centerfield reestablished Henderson’s three-run cushion and a run scored on a wild pitch increased the lead to 9-5.
After Northeastern went down in order in the seventh, the Reddies tacked on again. An RBI double from Argenbright and a passed ball that allowed him to scamper home pushed the HSU advantage out to 11-5. NSU got a run back in the eighth, but was unable to dig out of the hole, as Bebee got a strikeout to end it and send Henderson into the winner’s bracket.
The Reddies are now 6-2 all-time at the Central Regional and have won at least one game in each of their three NCAA Tournament appearances.