After watching their pitchers dominate the headlines the past three weeks, the bats of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team were overdue. This weekend they broke out like lumberjacks.
A day after racking up 21 hits in a 13-3 trouncing of Jarvis Christian College, the Lions crushed three monster home runs and rolled to 22 runs in a doubleheader split on Saturday.
In the first game of the twinbill the Cat bats built a 7-3 lead, keyed by a big, two-run blast from Jared Jones. Jarvis rallied to steal the game with some thunder of its own getting a grand slam to win 10-7.
Game two was a memorable game for SAGU. Winners of three of their past four and 5-5 in their last 10 outings, the Lions trailed 11-10 entering the ninth inning. On the verge of dropping a second consecutive close game SAGU gave warning its tanks had plenty of firepower left.
With two runners on and no outs, head coach Greg Hayes had third base coach Brady James send a bunt sign to DuJuan Prater. He didnít see it. Good thing.
On the first pitch from Jarvis closer Blaine Shackleford, the sophomore, batting in the clean-up position, crushed an outside fastball into the trees for a game-winning three-run homer.
Before the dugout could calm down, Jared Denton singled to leftfield. Then, on the second pitch, Riley Hensel (Maypearl) lambasted a fastball screaming tall and far beyond the left field barrier for a 15-11 margin over the stunned Bulldogs.
The ball disappeared near the scoreboard, sending players onto the third base line to congratulated Hensel as he crossed the plate. It was his first collegiate home run.
SAGU (9-20 overall, 3-15 in RRAC) still had to get through the bottom of the ninth to secure the win.† Lions closer Tim Kolczak was in the game facing what would seem like major pressure to most.†
Having recently returned from the frontlines in Iraq with the Army, he yielded a leadoff single, and then sat the Dawgs down in order.
SAGU is now 4-6 on the road. A year ago the Lions were 3-16 away from the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
Kolczak was credited with the win, as he also pitched a scoreless eighth inning. His four saves for a team that got off to a slow start rank No. 29 in the NAIA nation.
The Red River Athletic Conference tournament, which only takes the top six teams, has been a goal for the young baseball program. SAGUís league schedule began with a murdererís row of four of the top five programs and the defending champions who have the Red Riverís best offense. An 0-12 start was understandable.
Led by the 9-6 win over Wiley, the Lions began to climb back. Theyíve already exceeded last yearís victory total and have six games coming up with two sub .500 teams that could elevate the Lions in the standings.
The Lions have 11 games remaining on their slate, four of them at home.
The Lionsí March 29 game against Arlington Baptist College is now going to take place at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie instead of the Waxahachie Sports Complex. The schedule first pitch time is 2 p.m.
Southwestern will travel to Bacone College for a three-game series Friday.