Lions rally for Opening Day split
Thompson accounts for all runs in 3-2 win
SAGU hosts noon doubleheader Saturday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Greeted by much chillier weather than expected, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team found the perfect way to warm up.
A thrilling play at the plate to score the winning run in extra innings led to a bench-emptying celebration, filled with high fives, handshakes, backslaps and group hugs. In short, just enough drama to take the bite out of the cold front and an opening game setback.
Freshman Micah Thompson (Waco, Tx / Gatesville HS) scored one run and drove in the other two as the Lions earned a 3-2 victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader against Hillsdale College on Friday afternoon.
The Saints blanked SAGU in the opener with a 4-0 verdict. Friday's Opening Day games were played at the team's new on-campus ballpark.
The same teams will go at it again in another twinbill on Saturday. Game Three in the four-game weekend series is scheduled for a first-pitch at noon.
Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), a sophomore left-hander, will start the first game. Skyler Gilstrap (Smithville, Tx / Smithville HS) could take the mound in Game Four.
If not, Head Coach Jon Shockley could go with Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) or Nick Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS).
Weather forecasters have said a partly cloudy Saturday with mild winds are on the menu. Noon temperatures should rise from a noon reading of 55 to a high of 61 by 5:00pm.
A recap of the weekend will be posted on Sunday, along with action photos. The Lions will be back in action at home against Arlington Baptist College on Tuesday.
GAME TWO Summary
After grabbing a 2-0 second inning lead, the Lions attack went cold. Over the next five innings the Purple Pride mustered only two base hits.
Hillsdale rallied to tie the game with one out single in the top of the seventh inning.
Colten Conner (Flower Mound, Tx / Flower Mound HS) started the eighth with a single. It gave the Lions a leadoff runner on-base in every inning. This time, however, they would capitalize.
After he was advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS), Garrett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) sent a drive down the leftfield line that was caught by Anthony Armstrong.
That brought up Thompson, a 5'6 second baseman. He lined a sharply hit single to left-centerfielder, junior Mike Allen. Conner shot around third base as coach Andrew Rickman was waving like a crew chief on the NASCAR infield.
Conner was bent on scoring but looked like toast as Allen's throw was on the money.
"I had to score," he said during dinner with teammates after the game. "Their catcher (Dillon Henry) was on the line blocking the plate, and he's a big guy."
"There was no place to go," Conner recalled, "and I sure couldn't go through him."
So the 6'2 freshman went airborne. As Henry rose to tag the Flyin’ Lion in the thigh he lost control of the ball.
As Conner touched down, his hand landed on the plate.
“I felt the contact and figured I was out,” he said. “But I heard my teammates cheering and saw them charging at me, so that had to mean something good!”
The home plate umpire threw his arms horizontally, indicating Conner was safe. Either that or he was a flight instructor.
The victory went to Davis, who entered the game in the sixth. He lost his bid for a save in the seventh when a hit-batsman scored on a misplayed single in rightfield.
The closer tossed three innings, allowing two hits, the other was an infield single in the eighth, and one earned run. Davis overcame some first-game jitters, walking three. He countered by striking out five, much to the delight of his football teammates in the bleachers.
A play that appeared to light the comeback fuse happened with two outs in the top of the eighth. A ground ball was hit deep to shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS). He gloved it, and, with a runner in scoring position, fired a laser to first-baseman Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS).
SAGU finished with five hits, one less than Hillsdale. They walked four times and got to first twice when batters were hit by a pitch.
The Saints committed six errors, but, as they had done in the first game, the Lions struggled to hit with two outs and runners aboard.
GAME ONE Recalled
Hard-throwing Riley Allen shutout SAGU in the opener, allowing just four hits and no walks while fanning five.
SAGU threatened three times (1st, 2nd, 4th), getting a runner to second or third with two outs. Allen got two on strikes and retired the third on a lazy fly to right.
Freshman Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) performed reasonably well in his college debut. He tossed three and one-third innings, surrendering five hits (all singles). Two of Hillsdale’s four runs were unearned. He walked one and whiffed three.
Cox relieved him in the fourth. Inheriting two runners (walk and an infield error) and one out, he got the next two batters on a fielder’s choice and a fly to left.
He sat down the side in order in the fifth and sixth before hitting a batter and walking another in the seventh. Cox got a fly to center and a soft liner to shortstop to escape the seventh.
His line was 3.2 innings, no runs, no hits, and three strike outs.
SAGU was led at the plate by Mee. He was 2-for-3, including a double to right as well as a single to left and a liner to short.
Spivey stroked a two-bagger down the third base line and Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) shot a single past the third baseman.
Allen got nine of the final ten batters he faced.