Lions out-roar, outlast Coyotes
SAGU earns split of 4-game series
Baseball team wins twice with late rallies
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team battled a perennial winner in Kansas Wesleyan University tooth and nail over the weekend.
While the teams settled the four games at two games apiece, it was the tenacious manner in which the young Lions fought that was most satisfying to second year Head Coach Jon Shockley.
“The guys fought together, pulled together and played the game the right way,” said the coach, who is also a native of the Sunflower State (Ks).
“We had a number of guys who each played their role and did their part,” he added. “The results took care of themselves.”
“I really like this team’s work ethic. They are hungry and they don’t like losing,” Coach Shockley said, praising this year’s new Lions.
SAGU allowed 16 runs; 2, 7, 4 and 3 in the series. The young pitching staff has now held opponents to single-digits in runs during 12 of their 14 games.
Last year the bullpen got off to a similar start, allowing 10 just once in the first 14, compared to the 2011 team that yielded 10+ runs eight times in the opening 14.
After this weekend’s road four-game series at Ecclesia College in Arkansas, SAGU will begin the Red River Athletic Conference season.
Coach Shockley has only announced that Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) will start the first game. The remaining starters on the mound will be determined later.
AccuWeather is projecting a high on Friday of 40 with a low of 19 as well as a partly sunny sky with breezy conditions. Mostly sunny and 38 on Saturday. Winds between 8-18 mph.
The team is still without the services of their staff workhorse, Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS). The lefty is a sophomore and is resting a sore arm. His absense has provided opportunities on the hill as well as leftfield.
Here is a recap of the four games against Wesleyan:
GAME ONE: Lions 10-2
Killebrew, a freshman righthander, threw a complete game five-hitter. A leadoff hit batsman and a walk to start the seventh led to the only runs he allowed.
The right-hander, now 1-1, surrendered just two walks and struck out two. He retired 10 of 12 leading up to the bottom of the sixth, which the Lions trailed 1-0.
SAGU took advantage of Yotes relievers, who walked four and plunked two SAGU batters and permitted six singles in the bottom of the sixth to break open a defensive vice-grip.
Sophomore Rusty Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Dallas Christian College, Maypearl HS) and junior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) each scored twice after collecting a walk and a single during the inning.
With the bases loaded, Nick Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run. Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) then lined an RBI single past the second baseman for a 2-1 lead.
Shortstop Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS) ripped a line shot to rightfield to open up a 5-1 lead.
Spivey led the Lions’ 11-hit attack with a 3-for-4 showing. Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) contributed a 2-for-3 game.
KWU’s Brandon Monahan sailed through five shutout innings, permitting four singles; two by Spivey and one apiece from Sheffield and Justin Dossey (Aubrey, Tx / Murry State College, Aubrey HS).
He struck out eight and walked two until relievers caved in the sixth.
GAME TWO: Coyotes 7-4
The visitors chipped away against the Lions Josh Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) to build a 5-1 lead through four innings. Wesleyan had nine hits and three walks.
Connor Freeman and three relievers held SAGU to six hits, whiffing eight - five swinging.
Pisors went five and two-thirds of an inning. He was touched for four earned runs on seven hits. He struck out two and walked a pair. The 6’7 righty was chased after back-to-back infield infield errors in the sixth.
His former high school teammate, Garrett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx/ Red Oak HS), got out of the inning by retiring the next batter on a fly to Cox in leftfield.
Thomas, a standout shortstop for the Hawks, conceded two runs on two hits; one on a sacrifice fly, the other on a groundout.
SAGU Designated Hitter Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS) enjoyed a 3-for-4 night, driving in three runs with RBI singles in the third, fifth and seventh. He sprayed the hits to all fields.
Taylor Froelich’s (Lee’s Summit, Mo / Central Christian College, LS West HS) towering fly to shallow right scored the final run. It spiraled, whirled and attracted a three-man committee of glove-wielding defenders. Alas, it landed untouched.
Micah Thompson (Waco, Tx / Gatesville HS) scored twice following a single and a stolen base, then on a walk, dancing home on Froelich’s uncatchable infield fly.
GAME THREE: Coyotes 4-0
A classic pitcher’s duel between the Lions’ Skyler Gilstrap (Smithville, Tx / Smithville HS) and the Yotes’ Adam Matz. There was no score until the fifth.
In fact, Gilstrap had a no-hitter through four.
Wesleyan got to him for a pair in the fifth. He hit the leadoff batter and balked him to second. After the runner stole third, he scored on a grounder up the middle.
Following an error at shortstop, the second run scored on a single to right.
The purple-clad Coyotes tacked on two more in the sixth.
Gilstrap yielded a single to left and a balk call before Montana Chitty (Lake Worth, Tx / Lake Worth HS) took the hill.
A sacrifice bunt and an error at second scored one. Two walks and a sacrifice fly to right brought in the fourth run.
Gilstrap (2-1) gave up three runs on three hits. He walked two and sat down three on strikes.
The Lions collected just two hits, a double in the left-centerfield gap in second by Denton, and a leadoff single by Cox in the seventh.
Matz struck out three, walked two and hit a batter (Denton). Fourteen Lions were retired on ground balls.
GAME FOUR: Lions 4-3 (10 innings)
Following rain showers, the final game in the series resembled the third. Wesleyan built a 3-0 lead with two runs in the third and a solo tally in the fifth.
SAGU’s freshman right-hander, Cox, was impressive. Four batters were sent away in the first two innings from choking on a splinter.
In the third the Yotes netted two runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. Three walks, two stolen bases, an error at second and a ground out produced two crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
A single and a ground rule double to deep right supplied the third run.
Meanwhile, the Purple Pride could manage just three singles, all with two outs, through six innings off of 6’5 Brandon Ramsey.
Mee smashed a full-count pitch to right in the first, Thompson beat out a bunt to third in the third and Denton stroked a frozen rope to rightfield in fourth.
Down 3-0 in the seventh, SAGU mounted an implausible rally.
Davis singled between short and third, but appeared destined to remain stranded when two teammates whiffed.
That’s when it got interesting. The top of the order strode to the plate.
Thompson walked on a full-count pitch out of the strike zone. Spivey, who hit .318 last year, came up with a huge at bat. He laced a 2-1 pitch to center to fill the bags with ‘Cats.
Knowing the team needed three runs, not one, third base coach Andrew Rickman held Davis.
With pressure mounting, the Yotes were careful with the hot-hitting Mee. Wild Bill took a 3-1 pitch to walk, forcing in Davis with the Lions’ first run.
KWU Head Coach Mark Carvalho brought in closer Colton Zebe (ZEE-bee).
Shockley countered by sending up Froelich (FRAY-lick). He found a 2-2 offering to his liking, and leveled a low-liner to right that knocked in the speedy Thompson and Spivey combo.
Deadlocked at 3-3, the game was “on” even as the field conditions worsened.
Zebe sat down the next seven Lions while Colten Conner (Flower Mound, Tx / Flower Mound HS) got the call from Shockley.
The 6’2 freshman got out of a jam in the eighth. With a runner on second and one out, he coaxed the no. 5 batter to fly out to Dossey in right, then retired the next batter on a ground ball that he fielded.
Conner granted two singles to start the eighth. Revealing moxie for the moment, he proceeded to ring up and sit down the no. 9, no. 1 and no. 2 batters on nine pitches, the latter two watching.
In the top of the tenth Conner retired the side on a ground ball that he gloved, a fly to Cox on a 2-2 delivery and a 6-3 grounder to Spivey at short.
The winning rally started when Froelich pounded a hot grounder on an 0-2 pitch that the shortstop booted. Denton, who is as tough as a thirty-cent steak, then muscled a single to left.
When catcher Lance Marks (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) came to the plate, the Lions had two veteran catchers on the bases and Marks, a new sophomore, about to get a whack at winning the game.
He laid down a bunt to advance the runners. Fielded cleanly by the catcher, the throw for the lead runner at third was in the dirt. A hustling Froelich slid and came up covered in soil and grinning like a possum.
Going on a hunch and believing that Enrique Rodriquez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan Catholic HS) was due, Shockley stuck with #13.
The bases were loaded with no outs and a batter (Rodriguez) who was 0-for-4 with three strike outs. No pressure there.
Coach Rickman encouraged him to wait until the pitcher had thrown him two strikes, Rodriguez recalled afterward.
“Then he (Rickman) paused,” Rodriquez said, “probably realizing I had struck out a few times. He then changed his mind and assured me to jump on the first good pitch.”
The sophomore did just that, lining a 2-0 inside fastball past a diving shortstop. Rodriguez’ game-winning single emptied the bench of back-slappers and glad-handers.
Conner (1-0) collected his first collegiate win by going two and two thirds of an inning, surrendering two singles while fanning three. He did not issue a base on balls.
SAGU racked up nine hits, with Denton leading the way with three. Wesleyan was held to six.