Baseball Lions host St. Gregory's Friday, Saturday
Three-game series to impact SAGU's post-season chances
Probable pitching rotation; Pisors, Killebrew, Ortiz
PREVIEW OF BOTH TEAMS
Directions to Friday’s Doubleheader (below)
Current Standings: http://www.soonerathletic.org/
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The anticipated three-game series between Southwestern Assemblies of God University and St. Gregory’s University begins on Friday with a doubleheader at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
The two teams will meet again at noon Saturday, on campus, in a single, nine-inning contest. It figures to be the most important series of the season, to date, for both teams.
SAGU and St. Greg’s are trying to secure a berth in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament, May 2-6. The Lions are currently in sixth place, two games behind 5th place Texas Wesleyan University.
The visiting Cavaliers are two games out of qualifying for the tourney.
DIRECTIONS to the WAXAHACHIE SPORTS COMPLEX
Fans coming to Friday’s 4:00pm twinbill at the WSC, should take Highway 287 and head southeast towards Ennis. Take the second exit at Broadhead Road. Turn left to cross over 287.
The complex is opposite the Whataburger and Show Biz Theatre at 151 Broadhead Street. Enter and proceed to the far right to diamond #7.
Sunscreened bleachers, concessions and restroom facilities adjoin the ballfield, which is equipped with lighting and plenty of paved parking. Admission is free to the public.
The weather forecast is for a partly sunny sky, cooler, with a high of 67; mild winds and low humidity. Similar conditions are expected on Saturday.
SAGU is 5-4 over the past three series. The offense sputtered to 3.1 runs per game in that stretch, though the defense has yielded five runs or less six times.
The Cavs are 4-5, scoring at a 5.2 runs per game clip.
Both clubs have permitted over six runs per outing in their last nine contests.
A complete comparison is posted below.
Lions Head Coach Sam Blackmon indicated the line-up will vary. The pitching rotation, however, could show some changes.
Freshman Pedro “Tres” Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS) is schedule to make his team-leading ninth start. The durable left-hander has good control, permitting just 13 free passes in 48 innings.
His 4.69 earned run average deserves better than a 2-6 record. Ortiz has endured little run support in some of his outings.
Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), the 6-foot-7 righthander, will make his first start in three weeks. He has a 4-3 record and a 3.11 ERA.
The sophomore has walked only 11 batters and struck out 33 in 46 innings.
Ortiz and Pisors (PIE-suhrs) each have three complete games under their belt.
Also likely to get a starting nod is Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS).
The steady sophomore is 3-1 and sports a 4.67 ERA.
Tucker Burt (N. Richland Hills, Tx / Westlake Academy ) has been cleared to pitch. The hard-throwing freshman (3-3, 5.88) and Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ. of Dallas ) are very capable hurlers who could contribute on the mound.
On March 14 it was Burt who teamed-up with Pisors in a 1-0 road triumph over Mid-America Christian University. Both went over three innings.
Ortiz, Pisors and Killebrew will face three Cavaliers who all rank in the SAC’s Top 20 in RBI (runs batted in).
Senior catcher Mark Milioto leads the trio with a .364 batting average. He has hit nine doubles and driven in 24 runs.
Jacob Ratliff, at .344, has four home runs and 23 ribbies. Overall, the senior outfielder has racked up 15 extra-base hits.
Junior outfielder Fabian Reza swings a .333 bat with 22 RBI.
The Swashbucklers’ top pitcher, statistically, is sophomore Chris Sutton. The righty is 5-2 and has a 4.99 ERA.
The bell cow of the Lions is Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS). A senior from the Rio Grande Valley is swinging a potent bat at .402.
He leads with 15 extra-base hits and 15 RBI. Moreover, the catcher and leftfielder leads by example with his boot-leather tenacity.
A balanced offensive attack is spearheaded by 16 RBI from junior shortstop Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / McKinney HS, Hesston College lege). Multi-positional Jonathan Santiago (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS ) has 15 RBI.
SAGU has shown the most improvement this season with a sharply improved defense. A year ago they were last in the Red River Athletic Conference in fielding.
Misplays resulted in 116 errors. So far this spring they are fifth in the SAC, and, with three weeks remaining, have totaled just 59 errors.
The winner of the series will undoubtedly be the team who executes the best in the field. Hitting in the clutch is what fans know to determine the victor.
Watch for pitching depth - manifested over twenty innings - to set the stage in this series.
One of SAGU’s prominent team goals this year has been to qualify for the SAC tournament. Another is to win enough to earn a spot in the Central Regional tourney of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
“Our goal is to reach the conference tournament,” Coach Blackmon said, “and has been since we started. The players have really bought into the process and the work that it takes to get there.”
“Obviously, week in and week out in this conference,” he continued, “you better show up ready to play. And that will be no different over the next month.”
Denton pointed out that the team’s immediate objective is to win the St. Greg’s series.
“St. Gregory is our team’s only focus right now. We know how much this series means and all the implications it has on conference standings,” he said this week. “We have to go out there and have a mindset of winning each inning and try to dominate from the start.”
“Our players and coaches seemed very focused. We know St. Gregory's is another quality team within our great conference. We will need to be prepared and ready to play hard for three games.”
“I'm really proud of this group. They have been focused and play purposefully,” he summarized. “So I definitely want to see them reach that goal.”
The Top 8 teams will be divided into two groups of four at the SAC tournament.
After a round of pool play (playing the three teams in their group), the winner of each foursome advance to the conference finals.
“Obviously we would be honored to reach them both,” Blackmon resumed. “We have talked about the conference tournament and the NCCAA regionals.”
“Our focus has been within the conference, simply because that's our first affiliation. I think we have an obligation to try and reach that every year.”
“I do think we would be excited for both particularly in the first year to have things continuing forward with the program.”
TEAM STATISTICAL COMPARISON
|Team Totes||St. Gregory's||SAGU|
|Batting Average||.249 (9)||.284 (6)|
|Runs Per Game||4.55 (7)||424 (8)|
|Total Home Runs||12 (6)||3 (9)|
|Total Stolen Bases||16 (10)||36 (6)|
|Fielding Percentage||.933 (8)||.947 (5)|
|Total Errors Committed||72 (9)||59 (5)|
|Earned Run Average (ERA)||7.01 (8)||5.51 (7)|
|Opponent's Batting Average||.315 (9)||.306 (8)|
|Innings Pitched||244 (4)||240 (8)|
|Walks Issued||143 (10)||105 (5)|
|Pitching Strike Outs||175 (7)||107 (10)|
NOTE: Number in parentheses indicates where team ranks in the 10-team S.A.C.