#2 Pilots top Lions in twinbill
Worrell, Morgan shine; Mendoza stars
SAGU hosts LSU-Shreveport Sat. at 1:00pm
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Playing with fire doesn’t usually end well.
After battling tooth and nail with the nation’s #2 ranked team until the final innings, Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s baseball team felt the heat of LSU-Shreveport, who caught fire late to sweep a Friday night doubleheader, 8-2 and 18-2, at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
The victors were clearly deserving though the scores were quite misleading.
The Purple Pride made the Pilots sweat with some impressive play by their starting pitchers, a few big hits and two spectacular catches in by Mario Mendoza (Ft. Worth, Tx / Grambling State University, Polytechnic HS).
Mendoza, who has been sidelined from the mound after hurling a no-hitter and a one-hitter (elbow strain), returned to leftfield. Super Mario seemed to be burnt on a deep drive to left in the first game that sent him running full-tilt towards the fence.
Just as he reached the warning track and the fence approaching like a parked SUV, he reached out and snared the ball over his left shoulder before running into the barrier. He made the circus catch look almost routine. It was a restaurant-quality highlight!
In the nightcap he may have topped that effort. An opposing batter smashed a deep shot down the leftfield line that was hooking away from Mendoza. The fleet-footed senior kicked up a few flying divits in a bid to track down the well-hit ball. With the closing speed of Champ Bailey and with arms outstretched, he slid and reached to apprehend the joyriding rawhide!
Game One Revisited
In the first game, SAGU freshman Zach Worrell (Ft. Worth, Tx / Central Christian College, LD Bell HS), in just his second collegiate game, held one of the best hitting attacks in the NAIA to five hits and a pair of lone runs until the fifth inning. He struck out four in the first four innings.
They finally were able to chase him with three runs and went on to win by an 8-2 score. The fearless lefty more than held his own. He shutout Howard Payne University 4-0 last week in his debut.
After transferring from Central Christian College (where he was a red-shirt last year) Worrell wasn’t cleared to play by the NAIA until last week. He’s now 1-1.
Another freshman, Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) replaced him. Rockie was an avalanche, blowing through the first three batters. Each of them, like Glenn Miller's big band, went down swinging!
The Pilots, who are 29-3 overall, adjusted, and then put together a three-run inning to secure the win.
With two outs in the sixth they rallied with a single, a hit batsman, a double to left, another single and a second hit batter before Davis got the third out on a fly ball to Ben Chavez (Roswell, NM / NM Military Institute, Gateway Christian HS) in rightfield.
The Lions' two runs came in an inning that revealed both their ability and their season-long struggle to break games open with runners on base.
Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) lined a one-out single to center to rev-up the Cats. Sophomore catcher Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) then blistered an inside pitch down the third base line for an RBI double.
After a fly out, freshman Enrique Rodriguez (Ft Worth, Tx / Ranger JuCo, Nolan Catholic HS) ripped a line shot to rightfield that sent courtesy-runner freshman Kevin Barnes (Weatherford, Tx / Brewer HS) around third and across the plate.
Senior third baseman Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) stroked a single up the middle before freshman shortstop Jake Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) loaded the bases with an infield single. But they were all left stranded.
SAGU started the seventh and final inning on a Chavo shot to centerfield. The next two batters hit into a fielder’s choice and a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
LSUS pitcher Matt Lackie (7-0) and closer Jerry Lawrence allowed 10 hits, but just two earned runs. They did not issue a walk. Lackie controlled the top three in the SAGU batting order to a combined 2-for-12.
Rodriguez and Hensel led Southwestern with two hits apiece.
Game Two Re-Cap
The River Pilots and Lions appeared to duplicate the first game, with SAGU senior southpaw Nic Morgan (Ft. Worth, Tx / LeTourneau Univ, Boswell HS) doing the handcuffing. The cagey veteran rationed the Pilots on just one run and two base hits until the fifth.
Two errors on one play at shortstop gave LSU life. After a single, Morgan fanned the next batter. The Pilots tried a delayed double steal, with Denton firing to Donovan Vess (Ft. Worth, Tx / Eastfield College, Lake Worth HS), who then returned the ball at the plate to nail the lead runner.
Morgan, Southwestern’s best starter this season, had nearly battled his way out of the jam. David Dorton, the Pilots catcher, then smoked a deep gapper between Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) and Chavez.
Thanks to a favorable bounce at the fence, Dorton raced home for a rare, inside-the-park, 3-run homer for a 4-0 lead.
They tacked on another three the next inning by combining two singles with two hit batters, an error at first base and two walks to end Morgan’s night.
Chris Stanley (Harker Heights, Tx / Harker Heights HS) came in to face one batter to end the rally. LSUS had pulled away for a 7-0 lead.
Southwestern, checked by Jonathan Burnett (3-0) through six shutout innings, finally got through for their second and third hits in the seventh.
Vess walked and Elles pounded a single to rightcenter. Sophomore catcher Taylor Froelich (Lee's Summit, Mo / Lee's Summit West HS) cracked a double to the outskirts of rightfield. The ball landed fair by just a few feet and rolled into foul territory as two runs scampered home.
Froelich (FRAY-lik) name in German, "vraelick," means cheerful person, akin to someone who frolicks. His two-bagger gave him plenty of reason for 'good cheer.'
It appeared the game would end with the same score as the first game until the ninth. Three relievers weren’t able to provide any as LSUS turned a respectable effort into an 18-2 setback with a double-digit inning. With nine hits, three walks and a pair of wild pitches, the Pilots put it in cruise-control.
Head Coach Jonathan Shockley had to call on senior closer Tim Kolczak (San Antonio, Tx / F.E.A.S.T., Taft HS). After surrendering a hit, he shut down the show with three straight outs, one of them a swinging strike out.
The ninth saw two pinch hitters, Adam O’Banion (Peoria, Ariz / Raymond S Kellis HS) and Dominic Denney (Medford, Ore / North Eugene HS, La Cueva HS) reach base on an error and a hit-by-pitch, respectively. Jacob Byrd came in to pitch and sat down the next three Lions swinging.
A year ago in Shreveport, SAGU was tamed easily. The Pilots routing SAGU with double-figure runs in each game.
Southwestern, sans the last inning, showed clear improvement even with the final results not showing in the win column.
Saturday's solo game, and upcoming dates
The two teams will play a single game on Saturday at 1:00pm to cap a three-game series. The schedule starter for the Lions is sophomore right-hander John Savis (Canton, Tx / Canton HS).
The Waxahachie Sports Complex is located on Broadhead Road, just north of Highway 287. Admission and parking are free to the general public.
The Lions will take off for Easter before meeting Dallas Christian College for an April 10th afternoon doubleheader. The Crusaders may host the game at Reverchon Park, near the Oak Lawn area northwest of Dallas.
SAGU returns home to play the University of the Southwest on April 13-14 at the WSC. USW is located just across the border in Hobbs, New Mexico.
The likely home finale will be against Arlington Baptist College, set for April 17. The club could honor seniors that evening.
An announcement is forthcoming on the team's official "Senior Day."
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at
or at 469-658-2847.