Morgan's mojo lifts SAGU to 3-1 win
Denton, Vess spearhead nine-hit attack
SAGU, Hillsdale play twinbill at noon on Saturday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Senior Nic Morgan (Ft. Worth, Tx / LeTourneau Univ, Boswell HS) hurled a complete game, six-hitter to lead the Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team a 3-1 triumph over Hillsdale College in the season opener for both teams.
The lefthander was in command in five innings and got out of jams in the other two frames to effectively keep the Saints at bay. The angular Morgan, 1-5 a year ago, was able to throw an assortment of pitches while controlling a curve ball that kept batters off-balance.
He finished with four strike outs against a lone walk. He hit one batter.
The triumph made a winner of new head coach Jonathan Shockley in his SAGU debut.
“I am very proud of the way the guys played tonight,” he said following the game. “I can't wait to see what's in store for us in tomorrow’s games.”
Southwestern and Hillsdale will play a doubleheader on Saturday at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. The twinbill is set for a noon start. Admission is free to the general public.
The two schools also began the 2011 season with a three-game set in Waxahachie. The Lions took the first two, 9-4 and 8-7, before the Saints rallied to a 6-3 win in the finale. They split two games in 2010.
Coach Shockley announced that Jon Savis (Canton, Tx / Canton HS), a 6’1 sophomore, will get the start in the first game, while senior Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, Tx / Grambling State Univ, Polytechnic HS) takes the ball in the nightcap. Both are right-handers.
The National Weather Service calls for a partly-cloudy sky that tops out at 53. The first pitch at high noon will be thrown through a crisp 49 degree air with 16 mph winds coming from the north.
“I was very impressed with Nic's performance,” Shockley said. “He threw with confidence and mixed his pitches well. He really had hitters off their swing.”
“Our defense played well,” he added. “We had three errors, but that's good considering it's the first game.” Shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) and third bagger Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) were busy sweeping the ground clean of groundballs.
After Morgan quickly set Hillsdale down in the top of the first inning, the Lions seized the lead.
Mendoza lined a single to rightcenter and was driven home on an RBI hit to left off the bat of Donovan Vess (Ft. Worth, Tx / Eastfield College). Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) ripped a run-producing hit that knocked in Vess for a 2-0 lead.
Hillsdale, located in Moore, Oklahoma, answered with a run in their half of the second. A double to left was misplayed in the bright, setting sun, to set up the rally.
Morgan settled down and didn’t allow an extra base hit the final four innings. His breaking pitch was tough to locate for Saint swingers.
SAGU tacked on an insurance run in the fourth when Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) singled in Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Ranger JuCo, Nolan Catholic HS).
The game’s defining play came in the top of the last inning. Hillsdale threatened by putting two men on base with no outs. The latter baserunner was nicked by Morgan on a 1-2 delivery.
He got a fly ball to centerfield that Jett charged and came up firing. Launching a torpedo to the plate, Jett was on-line and on-time. A retreating runner was trapped between Hensel and Denton, the catcher. He was eventually toast at the plate. The rally died on a fielder’s choice.
“Jett’s bullet led to a pickle play that was perfectly executed,” praised Shockley. “It killed their momentum.”
Vess and Denton each had a pair of hits to lead a nine-hit attack. “They helped set the tone early,” said the coach who was at Central Christian College in McPherson, Kansas last season. “Spivey had a nice double down the leftfield line for his first collegiate hit,” Shockley pointed out.
Playing the Hits
Supporting Vess and Denton were Jett, Mendoza, Taylor Froelich (Lee’s Summit, Mo / West HS), Hensel and Spivey, each with a solo hit. The runs were scored by Mendoza, Vess, and Rodriguez.
Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) came off the bench and recorded a stolen base.
The Saints’ senior ace, Matt Cothran, held SAGU to nine hits while fanning four. He walked one.
Hillsdale is a dual member in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA).
SAGU schedule starts with nine straight home games
The Lions continue their season-opening nine-game homestand when they welcome Central Christian College to town for three on February 3-4; 4:00pm on Friday and a 12 noon double-dip on Saturday. The contests will be held at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
Southwestern then plays host to Dallas Christian College on Tuesday, Feb. 7, in one of 19 doubleheaders.
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