SouthArk tops No. 1 team in country for second straight year

POPLARVILLE, Miss. - For the second straight year, South Arkansas College has knocked off the No. 1 team in the country.

Colin Reed turned in a superb performance in his first college start, and Chase Irby drilled a solo home run, as the Stars topped No. 1 Heartland (Iowa) Community College 4-1 on Sunday.

“It's exciting,” SouthArk coach Cannon Lester said. “Colin Reed was great in his first college start. Alex Showalter made a couple of incredible plays at shortstop. We created some chaos and played with great energy all day. I hope it's one of those pinpoint wins where we look back, and it's a huge turning point for our season.”

Sunday’s win gave the Stars (9-8) a split of four games played against teams ranked in the NJCAA Division II preseason poll. SouthArk themselves opened the season ranked No. 11 in the poll.

As part of their run to the NJCAA World Series in 2023, the Stars snapped No. 1 LSU-Eunice’s 39-game winning streak with a 5-2 win.

On Sunday, the Stars opened the scoring in the second.

After Jacob Ambriz singled and stole second base, he scored after Yadi Canales’ grounder to third was mishandled for an error.

Canales later scored after a line drive to center by Irby was dropped.

The Hawks (3-2), who are the defending national champions, scored a run in the third to make it 2-1, but Reed and two relievers kept Heartland off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Reed allowed only three hits and one unearned run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out four.

SouthArk gave themselves some breathing room the seventh.

Gavin Murphy was hit by a pitch and Kyle Tolley followed with a bunt single to put a pair of runners on base.

Beau Kuttenkuler then drove in a run with a bunt single of his own, but Tolley was thrown out at the plate on the play.

Kuttenkuler was later caught stealing, but Irby followed with his aforementioned home run that made it 4-1.

Bryson Menard pitched around a hit and a walk in a scoreless eighth, registering one strikeout.

Luke Eaton then worked a scoreless ninth for the save.

The Stars are set to open Region II play on Thursday at home against SAU Tech.

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