By COURTLIN HAYGARTH | HSU Sports Network
ARKADELPHIA — Thirteen years ago, Robert Gilbert set the all-time hits record at Henderson State with 194 hits. On Saturday, Feb. 12, 2023, Greyson Stevens broke that record with his 195th hit in the bottom of the first inning against McKendree in the first game of the day. Stevens went on to go 4-for-4 at the plate against the Bearcats as part of HSU’s 11-1 run-rule victory.
In the second contest, the program’s hits leader added another pair of base-knocks to his record as the Reddies posted their second run-rule victory of the day against Lane College, 12-1. With 14 hits against the Dragons, Henderson recorded a total of 26 hits in just 15 innings of baseball while allowing just 10 hits.
With the HSU Invitational now in the rearview mirror, Henderson St. (5-2) will ride a three-game winning streak into a mid-week clash with Mississippi College Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. in Clinton, Mississippi. Conference play awaits the red-and-gray after that with Southwestern Oklahoma St. coming to Clyde Berry Field for a three-game series Feb. 17-18.
GAME 1: Henderson St. 11, McKendree 1
After starting pitcher Andrew Howard claimed two of the Bearcats’ first three outs via strikeout, the HSU offense waisted no time getting rolling. After lead-off hitter Luke Farrar was hit by a pitch, Steven’s record-breaking moment came on a single to right field, advancing Farrar to second before Kaden Argenbright walked, loading the bases not 20 minutes into play. Rice took the opportunity in stride, sending a ball over the right field wall, off the scoreboard, to establish a quick 4-0 lead.
Howard kept McKendree off the board until a homerun in the top of the fourth cut the margin to three, 4-1, but the Reddie bats did not let it stay that way for long. A Farrar single scored Landon Ervin, who singled to get the bottom of the fourth started, before a Dillon Thomas single added two more to the lead. A Logan Cowart ground ball through the left side finished off the scoring, 8-1.
With the seven-run advantage remaining into the sixth, Howard was relieved on the mound by Payton Byrd, who made quick work of the Bearcat batters put in front of him, sitting them down in order as the sophomore from Warren, Arkansas left them swinging at air. That level of dominance continued into HSU’s at-bat, with three more runs, two of which came courtesy of Stevens to add to his already-held RBI program record, put the game in rune-rule territory, 11-1, before pitcher Blake Pennington entered in the seventh to finish the game early.
GAME 2: Henderson St. 12, Lane College 1
Less than an hour after run-ruling McKendree, Lane College suffered the same fate, only this one took eight innings. Similar to the first inning of the earlier game, HSU hung four runs on the Dragons in the team’s first at-bat. After Colton Patterson led off with a triple, Thomas quickly put HSU on the board with a groundout to shortstop, scoring Patterson. One walk, two wild pitches and a groundout later put the Reddies on top, 4-0.
Henderson’s offense remained at four runs over the next two innings while Lane managed a run in the top of the third before a sacrifice fly from Rice in the fourth frame reestablished the four-run lead, 5-1. Again the score remained unchanged until the sixth with an additional two runs brought in by Argenbright and Cowart, bringing the tally to 7-1.
Slowly but surely, HSU began creeping towards run-rule territory yet again, adding another two runs in the bottom of the seventh before the game was concluded in the eighth. Drake Browning, with two strikes and two outs facing him, with the bases loaded, sent a bases-clearing triple to the right center wall for the 10-run run-rule requirement and then some as the Reddies finished with the 12-1 victory.