Stray Cats cost Lions in Muskogee
Rodriguez collects 3 hits in setback to Bacone
SAGU prepares for big series in New Mexico
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Scattered like dandelion fluff in a brisk wind, so were baserunners for Southwestern Assemblies of God University on a cold, damp, gray day in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The Lions, desperate to break a six-game string of losses, had plenty of opportunities to score against Bacone College. Seven base hits, two walks and four errors by the host Warriors only led to two scores in an 11-2 setback.
In all, twelve runners were stranded on base. The opportunities saw the squad stray two runners in each of the first three innings. In the fifth a double play squelched another rally.
Trailing 3-1, the Lions filled the bases with two outs in the sixth. A clutch hit went begging following a pop-up to shortstop. Bacone had escaped once again. Ten runners were deserted through six.
Bacone replied with a knockout punch in their half of the seventh. Two leadoff hits brought first baseman Eric Folkers to the dish. He unloaded on a 1-2 pitch, driving it beyond the barrier in left-center for a 6-1 lead.
A walk, wild pitch and a double extended the Tribe’s lead to 7-1.
The top of the eighth saw SAGU load ‘em up again, this time with one out. A fielder’s choice scored one run before a strike out muzzled the threat, isolating two more runners.
Bacone put the game away with a second straight four-spot in the eighth to open up an 11-2 margin.
The Warriors, now 25-8 overall and 14-1 in the Red River Athletic Conference, were held to three runs, all earned, through five frames against SAGU’s Nick Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS).
The 6-foot-1 freshman right-hander (1-4) deserved a better fate than being tagged with the loss. He surrendered seven hits and retired six on strikes. After giving up three early runs, Cox held the red-cladded hosts scoreless through the sixth.
Bacone pulled away with eight earned runs on eight hits in their final two at bats.
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fifth, the Lions got on the board.
Micah Thompson (Waco, TX / Gatesville HS) got to first when he was hit by a pitch. He was advanced to second on a ground ball to the right side by Garrett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and dashed to third on a passed ball. He scored when Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS) stroked a 2-2 pitch to right for an RBI.
Taylor Froelich (Lee's Summit, Mo / Central Christian College, Lee's Summit West HS) added a single to left before a twin-killing play at third ended the rally.
In the top of the eighth the Lions clawed for another run. Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS) ignited things with a smsh to left-center. Nick Turley (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian HS) entered the game as a courtesy runner.
He moved to second when Colten Conner (Flower Mound, Tx / Flower Mound HS) laid down a first-pitch sacrifice bunt. Rusty Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Dallas Christian College, Maypearl HS) followed by muscling an RBI hit to centerfield. The base knock came on a 1-2 offering during a five-pitch at bat.
SAGU totaled nine hits, three by sophomore catcher Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS). He also led the defense with eleven putouts.
Froelich rapped a pair of hits.
Three others had one; Thomas, Mee and Conner.
Froelich (FRAY-lik) and Rodriguez each belted a double. Froelich lined his to rightfield in the first after a two-out walk to Mee. A fly out to center ended the scoring bid.
In the next inning Rodriguez smashed a gapper to left-center to lead-off the inning. After a strike out, was hit by a pitch.
A fly-out and a ground out to first silenced the Lions’ roar.
Allen Rimer (2-1) got the win for Bacone. He permitted six hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts. Closer Jesse Fish picked up the save, his second, with three innings of relief.
Folkers went 3-for-4 with 4 runs batted, including a double and a longball. In the three-game series he was 9-of-12 with 14 RBI’s.
Bacone, who posted a 29-25 mark last spring, also finished last year’s 3-0 sweep with 40 runs. This season their sum was 38 runs. Dating back to 2009, the Warriors have a 13-game win streak against SAGU.
Stretch Run: 13 Games
The Lions’ regular season has thirteen games remaining, eight of them at home. SAGU is 13-23 in all games and 3-12 in the RRAC. They have two possible post-season destinations.
The top six teams in the conference qualify for the RRAC tournament. Currently, the team is in ninth and three games back of catching the teams in fifth and sixth place; Texas College and Texas Wesleyan University.
Odds are better for a place in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional. SAGU would need to win six or seven more games to earn entry.
The Lions have four 3-game series left, and a lone game (April 16) against Dallas Christian College at Reverchon Park.
They return to the field next weekend, March 29-30, when they take on the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico.
The Mustangs are 8-17 overall and 5-10 in the RRAC, making it a critical three-game set.
Next up is LSU-Shreveport. The Pilots (22-11, 9-6 in RRAC) visit town during April 5-6.
The first game of the series (April 12) against Texas Wesleyan (20-12, 6-6 in RRAC) is in Ft. Worth, with the last two to be played at home (April 13).
The season concludes April 19-20 with Huston-Tillotson University (9-28, 4-10 in RRAC) playing on campus.
SAGU hasn’t merited post-season action in the past six years. Fifteen wins (2008) was their high-mark in that span. Their best mark since joining the NAIA was the 2006 team, who posted a 20-22-1 record.