Senior right fielder Patrick Wherland hammered a double off the wall that knocked in the tying run in the fifth inning for Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday. It was also the lone bright spot for the Lions in an 11-1 rout by Bacone College.
It completed a surprising three-game sweep at the hands of the Warriors, who entered the weekend series in last place in the Red River Athletic Conference.
Bacone, now 7-25 overall and 4-14 in league games, moves out of the cellar. After starting the season with a 1-21 mark the Warriors have now won 6-of-10 by outscoring SAGU 38-12.
The Lions (9-23, 3-18 in RRAC) had their moments in the three-game weekend. But late breakdowns by the defense and pitching spoiled an opportunity to extend their own improved play over the past month.
The Saturday matinee was a pitcher’s duel between right handers, Southwestern’s sophomore Jared Jones and Brandon Jackson, a freshman for the Warriors.
Jackson went on to pick up his first win of the season by holding the Lions to six hits in six innings of work. He yielded only one walk and fanned seven batters.
Before the game he had an 0-6 mark and a 6.75 earned run average. He has, however, pitched six innings or longer in five of his seven starts. He also helped his own cause with his first home run, a solo shot late in the game. It was the Warriors’ 16th round-tripper this year.
Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, the Lions scored the equalizer. Wherland’s blast sent Dustin Jett to race home with two outs in the inning. Jett was on base with a one out walk.
The Warriors quickly answered with three earned runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 4-1 lead. Aided by errors and walks, the Tribe broke the game open in the sixth with five unearned runs to blow the game open.
Jones tossed five and two-thirds of an inning, allowing nine hits and nine runs. Only three were earned. Chris Stanley came in to throw an inning and a third of scoreless relief. Brad Rodgers finished the game, giving up two earned runs in the eighth.
Pitching coach Clay Scarborough praised each of the three for commendable efforts. For the third consecutive contest infield misplays were parlayed into rallies by Bacone, who took full advantage of the extra outs. The Warriors finished with 13 hits and were walked nine times.
The Lions picked up only six hits during the game. Shortstop Weston Lippe was the only player wearing purple with a crooked number in the hit column, going 2-for-3. He had a double and a walk.
Jett, Wherland and Ben Chavez each went 1-for-3, with Jett and Wherland walking once. Catcher Jared Denton was 1-for-4 after going 4-for-4 with two homers on Friday.
Designated Hitter Dominic Denney added to his own school record for walks in a season with his 31st. The previous season-best was 27, set in 2005 by Jayce Rasberry. Jett is approaching the highwater mark as well. He has accumulated 25 free passes to date with a month to go in the 2011 season.
Several batting marks are within reach for current players, including the highest batting average for a single season. Wherland, at .429, leads the .426 by Reggie Veal in 2006. Tommy Benningfield’s RBI (37) and base hit (63) totals from the 2005 campaign are also within the reach of Wherland, who stands at 28 and 51, respectively.
On a dubious note, four Lions are approaching the record for strike outs in a season. Derek Brewer, a power hitter, fanned 32 times in 2008. Four current players have 20 or more.
Defensively, Denton threw out three of five baserunners attempting to steal. Jones paced the team with four assists, while second baseman Chavez and third bagger David Gomez had three and two respectively. Cam Ward was tops with eight put-outs at first base.
Even with the defensive errors against the Warriors, SAGU was out hit (47-22) and surrendered more earned runs (20-10) in the three-game series.
Bacone racked up 38 total runs while limiting Southwestern to 12. It was similar to last year’s trio of contests, also in Muskogee, when Bacone took all three games by a combined 35-13 total in runs scored.
SAGU will be back on the field next Tuesday with a local game in a minor league stadium. They will take on the Arlington Baptist College Patriots at QuikTrip Park at 2 p.m.
The Grand Prairie Air Hogs play at the QTP, which is located on North Belt Line Road just north of Tom Landry Freeway (I-30) between 360 and Loop 12, west of Dallas.
The starting pitcher for the non-conference game will be Trevor Schexneider. It will be the second start this year for the junior southpaw.
Southwestern meets front-running Louisiana State University at Shreveport this weekend. The three road games include a 6 p.m. start on Friday, followed by a doubleheader at noon on Saturday. The audio version of the games will be available for fans.
The LSU-Shreveport Pilots are 25-8 overall and tote a 16-1 record in the RRAC. Their mascot is derived from the Red River and the historical commerce the area has experienced as a result.
The Pilots were ranked No. 13 in the NAIA’s Pre-Season Coaches Poll.