Mendoza one-hits Central in 6-1 win
Lions take Game One in twinbill
Jett turns in spectacular catch in centerfield
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Talk about an encore. Senior transfer Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, Tx / Grambling State Univ, Polytechnic HS) fired a complete game one-hitter as Southwestern Assemblies of God University caged Central Christian College (Ks), 6-1, in the first game of a double-header on Saturday.
The right-hander allowed an unearned run in the fifth inning when a balk was called. Mendoza, now 2-0, hurled a no-hitter in his first appearance a week ago against Hillsdale College (Okla).
Against Central he looked faster, evidenced by the nine Tigers who whiffed, six of them while swinging. He walked four in a 98-pitch gem.
“I’ll tell you this,” head coach Jon Shockley said afterwards, “Mendoza was impressive. He threw well and stayed focused from start to finish.”
After fanning two in the first, Jay Banks, one of nine Texans on the CCC roster, lined a leadoff single to begin the second. Mendoza then missed on a 3-2 pitch to Eric Chronister.
With two on and no outs, Mendoza got a huge lift on a near historic play by the impressive duo of shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) and second baseman Donovan Vess (Ft. Worth, Tx / Eastfield College).
On a 2-1 toss to Trevor Rabbitt, the first baseman stroked a liner that Vess webbed overhead. Before landing, Vess was looking to his right at Spivey. He zipped a dart to the shortstop, who beat Banks at closing time, and then threw to Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypeal HS) at first.
Chronister was safe by less than half a step, ruining what would have been the Lions’ first-ever triple play. A moment later, Mendoza erased him on 1-3-4 pick-off play.
Two innings later, the Tigers had another scoring bid snuffed out. Damon Smith, Jr. walked, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Mendoza dug in and struck out #2 batter Larry Jackson and Drew Schiesser. That brought up Banks, who was 3-for-6 in the series up that point.
On an 0-2 pitch, Smith bolted home in a surprise attempt to steal a run and to rattle Mendoza. The ball was high and inside, allowing catcher Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) to glove the pitch and apply the tag as Smith bowled home. (See photo below, left)
After Chronister was balked across the plate in the fifth, Mendoza gathered his wits and struck out five of the last nine men he faced.
The most memorable play was practically unforgettable. After catching the first fly in the top of the seventh, his third put out in the contest for the appropriately named centerfielder, senior Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS), he turned in a tremendous catch.
Banks drove the first pitch from Mendoza like a man test-driving a red Corvette. He went and far and deep, dreaming of never coming back!
At first the blast seemed like the park wouldn’t contain it. Jett was on his horse and going full gallop towards the warning track in right-center. He leapt and, like a scene from Angels in the Outfield, fully extended his glove arm, making a sensational catch! (See photos)
“That was the best catch I have ever seen in the outfield,” admitted Coach Shockley. Few would argue.
“Offensively,” Shockley added, “We were aggressive on the base paths. We stole a number of bases and got hits when we needed them. But we still have plenty of work to get done.”
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The Lions scored one in the first and a pair in the second for control of the game. Jett, who had singled to center, trotted home when Austin Penn was cited for a balk.
Spivey singled through the infield and Mendoza walked to start the second. After moving up a base on a wild pitch, they were driven home on a sacrifice fly to right by Jett and a base-knock to left off the bat of Vess.
SAGU iced the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Chavez, with five hits in the series, crushed a bomb to deep rightcenter for a double. Sheffield joined him on the basepaths after he muscled one in the gap left by the shortstop, Chronister, who snuck in behind Chavez on a pickoff play.
Spivey, 2-for-2 with two runs scored, pulled Penn down the leftfield line for an RBI double. Sheffield scored on an error, and then Jett brought in Spivey with a fly ball to center.
The Lions totaled seven hits and six walks.
The victory gave the Lions a 6-0 start to the 2012 season.
On a cold, blustery day, the team’s beginning was plenty enough to keep everyone warm.
The nightcap would see freshman Rockie Davis (Sante Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS), a starting linebacker on the SAGU football team, get the nod on the mound.