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SAU Tech Rockets baseball begins on the road

by Michael Hanich | February 1, 2023 at 10:20 a.m.
Photo By: Michael Hanich SAU Tech pitcher Jaden Woolbright tosses the ball to an infield player in practice.

The long-anticipated arrival of baseball at SAU Tech has arrived. This past Saturday, the Rockets played their first games on the road at Henderson State as they played against the SouthArk Stars and then against the North Arkansas Pioneers. The following day, the Rockets had another game against the Pioneers. While the Rockets did not finish the games with wins, there were positive results that head coach Tanner Rockwell and his coaching staff can work off of as the young team continues to develop.

The Rockets lost their first game of the season against the Stars 11-6 where right-handed pitcher Hunter Belton from Cabot, Arkansas was the starting pitcher. SouthArk was able to get on the board at the top of the first inning before SAU Tech took a 2-1 lead at the bottom of the first. The Rockets added three more runs at the bottom of the second inning to extend their lead 5-1 through two innings. SouthArk was able to outscore SAU Tech 3-1 through the fourth and fifth inning, but the Rockets maintained a 6-4 lead going into the top of the seventh inning.

At the top of the seventh, the Stars were able to find an impressive rhythm at the batting plate as they scored five runs to retake a 10-6 lead. At the top of the ninth inning, SouthArk was able to account for one more run to extend its lead 11-6. After a strong start for the Rockets' offense, they were unable to keep that consistency going through the last four innings.

Later on Saturday, the Rockets took on North Arkansas in an attempt to bounce-back. While the offense struggled, the pitching and defensive performance of the Rockets was the highlight of the weekend. Former Arkansas State Red Wolves pitcher and SAU Mulerider signee Jaden Woolbright was the starting pitcher against the Pioneers. After the initial two runs by the Pioneers at the bottom of the first inning, the Rockets held the Pioneers to only one run at the end of the game in the seventh inning.

The Rockets held the Pioneers to only three runs, four hits and five walks while accounting for 11 strikeouts. The biggest concerns that the Rockets ran into offensively was the lack consistency and rhythm at the plate. This was noticeable in the second game on Saturday and the only game on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Rockets faced the Pioneers as both sides struggled to find some consistency. The Rockets would fall to the Pioneers 11-3 as fatigue and a lack of collegiate game experience played a factor in the score. This is an attribute that Rockwell knew would play a part of early in the season with a new team with most of the players being first-year collegiate athletes. Rockwell told Camden News there would be some growing pains and playing issues with the team having to play so many games in a short amount of time.

While the SAU Tech Rockets have started their inaugural season 0-3; the small setback has to be taken into effect of how brutal the conference foes of the Rockets are and how much of an adjustment the team needs for the season grind despite developing for well over a year. The Rockets have a chance to create a special season, even in their first year as a program. They will need patience and determination to get over the new team label and their growing pains.

Print Headline: SAU Tech Rockets baseball begins on the road

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