Baseball Lions suffer tough setback
Mendoza injured in 5-1 loss to UTB
Pitcher of no-hitter and one-hitter is hurt
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team was dealt a very tough hand on a cool, windy Saturday afternoon in the Rio Grande Valley.
While enduring a controversial 5-1 setback to the nationally-ranked University of Texas at Brownsville, the Lions bore perhaps an even bigger loss when southpaw Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, TX / Grambling State University, Polytechnic HS) injured his left elbow.
The senior had thrown a no-hitter and a one-hitter in his first two starts before exiting suddenly in the third inning of a scoreless game. The extent of the damage won’t be known until a thorough medical exam is performed according to Jaroy Carpenter, SAGU's Director of Sports Medicine. When not pitching, Mendoza played leftfield and was the team’s leadoff hitter.
Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS), who was tagged with a loss during Friday’s doubleheader, was a hard luck loser on Saturday. He tossed two and two-thirds of an inning, allowing two hits and two runs, one of which was earned. He struck out two.
Davis, now 1-2, did not issue a walk and retired six batters on ground balls. An infield error proved costly in a two-run fifth.
SAGU drew to within one in the top of the sixth. Davis scored an unearned run when he raced home on a single by Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS). The Lions struggled to put hits together, though they were outhit by only a 7-6 count.
The Scorpions, 8-3 overall and 3-0 in the Red River Athletic Conference, tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth for a 3-1 margin.
In the eighth, while the Lion were within striking distance, Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) walked a batter. That brought up UTB’s left-handed leadoff hitter Zach Cordia. The centerfielder drove an offering deep to the leftfield corner.
According to many witnesses and UTB’s Sports Information Director, Ronnie Zamora, the ball appeared to be clearly foul. The home plate umpire, whose view is the only one that counts, ruled a home run.
SAGU head coach Jon Shockley pleaded his case, but with little success. The blast by Cordia clinched the game at 5-1.
"We went 3-0 in conference games, which is where we wanted to be," Scorpion head coach Bryan Aughney said. "SAGU is much-improved and they battled us. We were able to get timely hitting to win.”
“Our pitching today with Zach Armstrong (now 2-1) and the bullpen was solid,” he continued “and we played good defense. We have to continue to get better offensively. We're leaving too many guys on base.”
The Lions were led in hits by shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS). The freshman went 2-for-3 and played another errorless game in the pivot. Jett, Elles, Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) and Davis each ripped singles. The Lions left six runners on base.
The series was a bit of a homecoming for Denton, who hails from Mission, 65 miles west of Brownsville along the 'big river.'
Defensively, Southwestern first basemen Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Ranger Jr College, Nolan Catholic HS) ) combined for eleven putouts, nine by the “Chef,” indicating the pitchers kept the Scorpions from unleashing their stingers.
Plus, Elles (3), Davis (2) and Mendoza (1) united to strike out six batters. Only three outs were made the outfield, with Jett snaring two.
Comparing this three-game set to last year’s home series against UTB. The Scorpions outscored the Lions 22-8 while holding a slim 26-23 edge in base hits. In errors, UTB had one with SAGU making five.
Last season the Scorpions won 11-0, 10-1 and 11-5 (31-6), outhitting Team Purp 32-19. In regards to errors, UTB was listed as committing four to seven against SAGU.
This Week in Baseball
The Lions return to the field on February 15, a rare Wednesday, to face LeTourneau University. Slated as a doubleheader against the Yellowjackets, the games will be played in Longview (40 mi. east of Tyler), 145 miles east of Waxahachie.
SAGU will be back in the home whites next weekend when they play host to Huston-Tillotson University (2-3, 0-1 in RRAC) for three games.
The Rams went 12-30 a year ago, though they swept the Lions on Feb. 18-19 with scores of 13-3, 10-4 and 13-9. They have won the last five games in the series.
Huston-(pronounced like the city Houston)-Tillotson is located in Austin.