Southwestern Assemblies of God University built an 8-2 lead over Huston-Tillotson University on Saturday during a college baseball doubleheader.
A bases loaded double by Weston Lippe and an opposite field RBI by Dustin Jett; combined by the pitching of Jared Jones led the Lions. The host Rams, however, rallied for a 13-9 win to complete a three-game sweep of the weekend series.
After falling on Friday, 13-3, Southwestern dropped both ends of a twinbill against a Tillotson team that entered the weekend winless in three games. The Rams won the first game at noon by a 10-4 count before whisking the Lions in the finale, 13-9.
Southwestern is now 3-8 overall and 0-6 in games involving teams in the Red River Athletic Conference. Tillotson, 10-26 a year ago, is 3-3 in both its season mark and in the RRAC.
The challenge doesn’t get any easier for the Lions. This weekend, Feb. 25-26, they host Northwood University at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. The nationally ranked Knights (8-3, 4-0 RRAC) took three from Texas College this weekend, 4-3, 6-1 and 5-2. The following week comes another perennial power, Texas Wesleyan.
Southwestern has gotten off to a slow starts in most games this season as the offense has been shaking off the winter’s cold. Of more concern has been the team’s starting pitchers, who have yet to win a game. The middle relievers and closers have been quite effective in comparison.
“It’s been a frustrating start so far,” said pitching coach Clay Scarborough. “But we’re going to get there. We’re capable of much better. Our focus remains on the length of a conference season that gives us much to play for.”
Game one Saturday
The Lions yielded a four-spot in the first inning and spent the game battling back. SAGU scored a pair of runs in the fourth, sparked by a Patrick Wherland solo home run, a double by Ben Chavez, a Dom Denney single and a balk.
They added two more in the next inning. Cam Ward and Jared Denton were knocked in when sophomore baseman DuJuan Prater ripped-snorted a double.
Down 6-4, the Lions were knocked out when they yielded four more runs in the sixth.
Michael Reeves (Ovilla) took the loss (0-2). The squad issued only three walks, but four infield errors proved costly to Reeves and reliever Phillip Heider.
The team rapped eight hits, including a David Gomez double, and had a solid effort on the mound by junior lefty Trevor Schexneider.
The Rams’ 11-hit attack was paced by four RBI’s from Howard Limuel and three hits by Raul Gomez. Anthony Luna picked up the win by hurling five innings. Jose Guzman tossed two innings of hitless relief.
Game two Saturday
Southwestern pitching was charged with 11 hits and an equal number of free passes to Ram batters. Perhaps the most costly action was four infield errors that allowed four unearned runs to cross the plate, the margin of defeat in a 13-9 downfall.
The Lions, whose offense began to show signs of life during the weekend, built an 8-2 lead.
It is no secret that the surge by leadoff hitter, aptly named Jett, kindled the offense.
When the speedster is on the basepath, he is a threat to steal or taking the extra base. He also makes the highly efficient No. 2 batter, Ward, a feared weapon. That would set up the middle of the order of Denton, Wherland, Prater and Chavez to do big damage with their lumber.
In the second inning, Prater walked, Chavez stroked a single and Denny was plunked by a pitch. With the bases loaded Lippe crushed a drive deep into the sunny sky. It hit the left field wall, narrowly missing a grand-slam HR. It was a two-run double. Riley Hensel (Maypearl) hit a ground ball that almost scored Denny, who was tagged at the plate while trying to score.
Jett lashed an RBI hit to right. Head coach Greg Hayes ordered Ward to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt. Instead, he tapped his bunt attempt over the head of a charging pitcher for an RBI single. The offense purred for additional runs on a single by Denton. Wherland took one for the team – hit by a pitch – loaded the bases again.
Prater, who is developing a knack for clutch hits, coaxed an RBI walk for an 8-2 advantage. The rally died there, and the team wouldn’t score again until the ninth inning.
By then the Rams had regrouped and scored 11 unanswered runs to seize momentum and a third straight win. Austin Cook entered the game when SAGU sent their starter, Marc Magallanez, to an early shower.
Cook stymied the Lions over five and two-thirds of an inning on three hits. He set down 11 by striking them out. He walked only two. The junior right-hander got the win, saving Magallanez from a certain loss. He entered the game with an 0-1 mark and a 13.50 ERA.
SAGU’s attack totaled 10 hits, including four doubles and a pair of stolen bases. Jett led the way with three hits. Lippe, the shortstop, and Hensel, who played third, each collected two hits.
Lippe registered two runs batted in. Others with an RBI were Mike Wherland, Ward, P. Wherland and Hensel. Nine different players scored.
Pinned with the loss was sophomore Jared Jones, who pitched into the fifth inning. Schexneider, like Jones, gave up two unearned runs apiece. They deserved better.
Freshman Brad Rogers struck out three in an inning of work, closer Tim Kolczak tossed a 1-2-3 frame.