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Confidence remains as Travs snap skid with rally

by JEFF KRUPSAW SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | July 24, 2021 at 2:18 a.m.

The possibility of a fourth consecutive loss to the Wichita Wind Surge was staring at the Arkansas Travelers when they came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night.

The Travelers glared back.

Arkansas put together three hits to score two runs, the game-winner coming on a single up the middle by catcher Josh Morgan that gave the Travelers a 4-3 victory in front of an announced crowd of 5,535 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

Arkansas' rally came against Wichita closer Jordan Gore -- a one-out single by No. 8 hitter Connor Kopach, a run-scoring double by designated hitter Steven Wrenn, and Morgan's up-the-middle single.

Arkansas had a chance to win it with one out, but Austin Shenton struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

That left it up to Morgan, who hit a grounder between shortstop Jermaine Palacios and second baseman Spencer Steer.

Morgan leaped in the air as he ran down the first-base line, and he was mobbed by his teammates after rounding first at the same time as Wrenn crossed the plate.

"Very exciting," Morgan said. "Very exciting just because I felt like we needed a hit in that situation. I'm just happy it got through."

Morgan downplayed his role in the walk-off victory.

"It's not very common," Morgan said. "But I wouldn't have been there if my teammates had not put me in that situation."

That included Kopach, who came into the game hitting .144, and Wrenn, a .226 hitter on the season.

Wrenn replaced Dom Thompson-Williams as the designated hitter when he came in to run for Thompson-Williams in the bottom of the seventh and the Travs trailing 3-2.

Wrenn said he was talking with one of his teammates before coming to bat for the first time in the game.

"When I found out I was in, I went up to [Connor] Lien," Wrenn said. "I said, 'This could shake out with a guy on first, me up, and a chance to win.' "

As it turned out, Morgan's double to right center, with Kopach running on the pitch, was the big hit.

"That was a lot of fun," Wrenn said. "It's an exciting night for us."

Wrenn said the Travs continued to have confidence in themselves even after they lost the first three games to the North Division leaders.

"You know if you drop a couple, you're due to win a few," Wrenn said. "We never really hit the panic button. We're a confident team. We could turn around and win a bunch in a row."

Morgan said the Travs have not lost confidence, even after losing five of their past six heading into Friday night and seven of nine to Wichita.

"This team has great chemistry," Morgan said. "All year, whether we're down one in the ninth or five, I feel like we can always come back."

Morgan said he did not feel extra pressure to win it after Shenton struck out with Wrenn on third and one out.

"I just tried to slow everything down," Morgan said. "Honestly, I treated it as if there was no one on base in the first. Just kind of switching up the mentality. Staying locked in, but not trying to do too much in any situation."

Morgan said he knew the ball was going to get through as he ran toward first.

"When I saw where the shortstop was playing, I knew it was going to get through," he said.

The victory moved the Travs back to within 31/2 games of Wichita with two more games remaining in the series and confidence on the side of the Travs.

"It was a great overall game," Morgan said. "I'm happy with where we're at right now."

Today's game

ARKANSAS TRAVELERS VS. WICHITA WIND SURGE

WHEN 6:10 p.m.

WHERE Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock

RADIO KARN-AM, 920, in central Arkansas

WEBSITE travs.com

PITCHERS Travs: RHP Devin Sweet (2-5, 5.65 ERA); Wind Surge: LHP Kody Funderburk (2-3, 2.86 ERA)

TICKETS $12 box, $8 reserved, $6 general admission.

PROMOTIONS $1 berm tickets, Evan White T-shirt giveaway

THE WEEK AHEAD

TODAY vs. Wichita, 6:10 p.m.

SUNDAY vs. Wichita, 2:10 p.m.

MONDAY Off

TUESDAY at Springfield, 6:35 p.m.

WEDNESDAY at Springfield, 6:35 p.m.

THURSDAY at Springfield, 7:05 p.m.

FRIDAY at Springfield, 7:05 p.m.

Print Headline: Confidence remains as Travs snap skid with rally

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