Lions comeback stalls
Freshman hurler deserved better fate
Dozen stray 'Cats spotted in search of home
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- One-fourth of an ancient Arabian proverb was on display on a perfect spring Saturday at the Waxahachie Sports Complex; "Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, the neglected opportunity."
Missed scoring chances and a wild bullpen took their toll in a 12-3 loss in the third game of a three-game weekend series between Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Oklahoma's Bacone College.
A Hindi adage likens a man who misses opportunity to a monkey who misses a branch. The outcome is predictable.
The SAGU Lions twice cut a 2-run deficit to a lone run, but came up short in the clutch in the closing innings. Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Purple Pride drew to within 4-3 but left nine runners on base in the sixth through the ninth innings.
Freshman Rockie Davis (Sante Fe, Tx / Sante Fe HS) was impressive, yielding just three earned runs entering the eighth inning. The righthander scattered eight hits, seven of them singles, and whiffed two. He issued five walks and hit two batters, though only one of them scored.
Davis retired eight in a row from the second through the fourth. He held the top five Warriors to five hits into the eighth. He departed following an RBI triple and the Lions trailing 5-3.
Bacone put the game away with a 7-run ninth. Relievers permitted just two hits; only one leaving the infield, but walked two and plunked five others before a second out was made in the last inning.
The Warriors are in fifth place in the Red River Athletic Conference with a 20-11 overall record. They’re 10-5 in league games. SAGU slipped to 11-19 and 0-15 in the RRAC. A year the Jungle Kings endured 25 defeats in the conference.
Bacone and the Lions each had nine hits, but the red-clad Warriors took advantage of eight walks and seven hit batsmen. Southwestern had six walks and two hit batters, but strayed 12 Lions on base.
All three SAGU runs came with two outs, but only one tally was driven in with a hit. The other two came on well executed double steals.
The recurrent struggle to produce with men on base hindered the team throughout this series, with each of three defeats ending with the Warriors breaking through late with a scoring surge in close games.
Bacone took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a two-out, throwing error by the shortstop that allowed a pair of runners to dash past the dish.
After Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) scored on a delayed steal, the Tribe tacked on two more in the sixth.
With two outs they proceeded to load the bases on a bunt single, a sharply hit grounder and a six-pitch walk.
Davis almost got out of the jam when he got Anthony Seabolt to pop-up near the backstop. Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) collided with the fence as the ball appeared to graze him and the fence simultaneously.
Given a reprieve, Seabolt, a .351 batter, ripped a 2-run single to left-center.
SAGU scored in the bottom of the frame. Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Ranger JuCo, Nolan Catholic HS), back from an injury, rip-snorted a shot to center. He advanced to third on an infield single by Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, Tx / Grambling State Univ, Polytechnic HS).
He scrambled home as Mendoza was swiping second. Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) followed with a walk, but the rally died on an infield fly and a strike-out.
Davis retired the Tribe quietly in the seventh, setting the stage for SAGU to mount another scoring bid in their half of the inning.
Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) sliced a double down the rightfield line and danced into second while standing up. Denton walked with two outs. It brought Rodriguez to the plate.
Wreaking confidence, the hulkster lashed a line drive RBI single to center pulling the 'Cats to within 4-3. Two were stranded on one of nine strike-outs. In fact, each of the last four innings ended when Bacone fanned a SAGU batter.
The ninth saw the Purple Pride load the bases with one out on singles to left by Taylor Froelich (Lee's Summit, Mo / Lee's Summit West HS) and Denton and a walk to Mendoza.
Bacone's Cody McBride settled the uprising by getting the next two Lions on strikes.
Rodriguez and Hensel led the SAGU attack with two hits apiece. Ben Chavez (Roswell, NM / NM Military Institute, Gateway Christian HS), Mendoza, Denton, Jett and Froelich (like FRAY-lik) each had one.
Gangsters of Glove
Defensively the Lions received two spectacular plays from seniors.
Hensel sang Glove Me Tender when he snared a smash at third and then nailed the runner, Seabolt, at first. The third inning play was made to look routine.
Steven Smith, Bacone’s 6’5 clean-up hitter, ripped a fourth-inning, sinking liner in the gap in left-center. Jett, like a heat-seeking Patriot missile, sprinted as though he might try to catch the certain gapper.
A straight-out dive was complete when the aptly named Jett snagged the ball while surfing the grass. Onlookers had to face it, he’s addicted to glove!
Big Home Series
The team is off until next weekend. They resume action when the #6 ranked team in the NAIA, LSU-Shreveport, visits for three games, March 30-31.
The Pilots (25-3, 13-3 in RRAC), whose three losses were all by one-run to Bacone, University of the Southwest and Texas College, will face the Lions at 4:00pm on Friday at the WSC. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday that will begin at noon.