Baseball Lions drop pair at UTB
Vess grand slam highlights 7-6 loss
Watch teams play 1:00pm Saturday game
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- The rigors of life on the road in the Red River Athletic Conference brought mixed results for the baseball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Friday.
Facing nationally ranked University of Texas at Brownsville, the young Lions were swept 7-6 and 10-1 in a doubleheader played within sight of the Rio Grande River. Both games were decided in the final innings, unlike last year’s three-game set in Waxahachie.
The Scorpions took those three by scores of 11-0, 10-1 and 11-5. They stole a record 14 bases in the 2011 opener. Friday they had just six during the pair of games.
Game One: Eggs over easy, with a side of bacon. It's a grand slam!
The Lions stunned the heavily-favored Scorpions with a six-run second inning. The big blast was a grand slam homer by second baseman Donovan Vess (Ft Worth, TX / Eastfield College, Lake Worth HS). It followed RBI’s by shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) and senior transfer, leftfielder Mario Mendoza (Ft Worth, TX / Grambling State University, Polytechnic HS).
It served notice that these are not the same Lions that went 10-30 a year ago or 8-27 the previous spring. After an 8-0 start under new head coach Jonathan Shockley, SAGU is 8-3 overall and 0-2 in the RRAC.
UTB (7-3, 2-0 in RRAC) scored a pair of runs in both the first and second innings, but were muffled until their final two at bats by the Lions’ salty senior southpaw Nic Morgan (Ft Worth, TX / LeTourneau, Boswell HS).
The Scorpions, who were outhit 10-8 by Southwestern, nibbled their way back into the game. After a solo run in the fifth they eked out the narrowest of leads, 7-6, with two more in the bottom of the sixth.
They set the table for their winning rally when Gus Henggeler singled and advanced to second when Morgan hit the next batter, Peter Maldonado. Colby Henscey, the Designated Hitter, smacked a clutch two-run double.
Marcos De Leon (1-1) went the distance for the Stingers, fanning ten and walking four. He settled down after being scorched for the six earned runs to pick up his first win of the season.
Morgan went five and two-thirds of an inning, with John Savis (Canton, Tx / Canton HS) ending the Scorpions rally by getting the final batter on a ground-out. During a 115-pitch effort, Morgan got six batters to fly out; Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) making three of the grabs.
The angular Morgan surrendered seven runs, five of them earned. An error by Vess cost the team a pair of unearned runs. Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Spivey led the defense with three assists apiece.
Mendoza, the leadoff batter, had an impressive outing for the Jungle Kings. He went 4-for-4 (all singles), scored once and drove in a run. Vess was 2-for-4.
Jett, Hensel, Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) and Taylor Froelich (Lee's Summit, Mo / Lee's Summit West HS) had base hits as well.
Game Two: Davis Impressive Early
Game Two was a pitcher’s duel between SAGU’s Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, TX / Santa Fe HS) and UTB’s Adam Vera. The two zoomed through the first three innings, scoreless, in thirty minutes. Davis faced the minimum of nine batters.
The Scorpions nicked Davis for two runs in the fourth. A pair of errors at third base keyed the inning, which also saw UTB collect a stolen base and a pair of singles.
The Lions answered in the top of the fifth. Froelich pounded a single to leftfield, then exited for courtesy runner Kevin Barnes (Weatherford, TX / Brewer HS). Hensel sent a hot smash that allowed the shortstop only one play, a throw to first. Barnes advanced to second on the play, then promptly stole third base.
Ben Chavez (Roswell, NM / NM Military Institute, Gateway Christian HS) struck out but alertly took first on a passed ball by the catcher.
In an apparent delayed double steal, Chavez was thrown out while Barnes dashed to the dish, cutting the Scorpions lead to 2-1.
UTB, the largest school in the RRAC with 18,000 enrolled, tacked on a solo run for a 3-1 margin heading into the sixth. They chased a tiring Davis with six more clinch the game.
Davis (1-1) went five, permitting five hits and three walks. He struck out one and hit one batter in an 80-pitch showing. The freshman right-hander was charged with seven runs, five of which were earned.
Savis and Denton finished the game in relief, with the former going two and one-third innings. Savis did not allow an earned run in a 43-pitch stint.
The Scorpions’ Adam Vera (3-0) tossed a six-inning, six-hitter to gain his third win. He walked one and whiffed four in an efficient 72-pitch effort. Three relievers each went an inning to close out the contest.
UTB outhit the Lions 10-7. They also played errorless in both games on Friday.
Southwestern managed seven hits and two walks but struggled to produce with runners on base. The Lions left six on base.
Jett, with a double, was one of seven to hit safely, including; Vess, Enrique Rodriguez (Ft Worth, TX / Ranger JuCo, Nolan Catholic HS), Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), Froelich, Chavez and Spivey. Vess and Froelich (like FRAY-lick) reached base on walks.
Sophomore Naphtali Fletcher (Monohans, TX / Monohans HS) made his first collegiate appearance as a pinch hitter late in the game. He struck out.
The Scorpions’ head coach Bryan Aughney was honored after the doubleheader for reaching his 100th win as a coach in just over three years. His squads have gone 28-31, 31-24 and 35-26 prior to this year’s 7-3 start.
Solo Game on Saturday
SAGU and UTB will wrap up the series with 1:00pm game on Saturday. Fan can follow the action on live video, live audio or on Live Stats at the following links provided by the school.
Live Audio/Video: http://www.utbathletics.com/f1/Live_Audio_and_Video.php
Live Stats for Saturday’s Game: http://www.utbathletics.com/f1/Live_Stats_Game_3_of_Series.php
Next Week's Schedule
The Lions will be in Longview, Texas on Wednesday, February 15, to play a twinbill with LeTourneau University. The action will take place at LETU’s Conrad-Vernon Field at 5:00pm.
The Yellowjackets, who open their season today in Austin, are members in the NCAA’s Division III. They were 19-21 last spring, going 7-11 in the American Southwest Conference.
Southwestern returns home for a three-game set with Huston-Tillotson University (2-3, 0-1 in RRAC) on Feb. 17-18.
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