Lions topped by LSU-Shreveport
Freshmen shine: Mee drives in Cross for clutch run
Frosh pitchers turn in gutsy effort; Umphenour, Turley, Chitty, Pisors
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team kept perennial national power LSU-Shreveport within sight for much of Saturday’s doubleheader at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
Two big innings broke open both games as the Lions came up on the wrong side of 15-1 and 14-0 defeats.
The Pilots, who were ranked No. 1 for most of the past two years in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), won for the seventh time in their last nine outings to improve their record to 28-13 overall.
LSUS was 54-6 last spring and 47-15 the year before. They have won at least 41 in each season dating back through 2006.
They are currently in fourth place in the Red River Athletic Conference with a 13-8 ledger.
The young Lions fell to 14-28 overall and 4-18 in the RRAC. They were 13-16 just over three weeks ago. Last season they were 1-22 in the Red River with a senior-laden team.
No. 4 ranked Northwood University (32-8, 18-3 in RRAC) leads the league by one-half game over No. 23 Bacone College (28-11, 17-3 in RRAC). The Knights took 2-of-3 over the Warriors in Muskogee, Ok. this weekend.
Northwood swept a doubleheader on Friday; winning the opener in nine innings, 4-2, then routing the Tribe in Game Two, 8-1. Bacone (BAY-kohn) won the finle on Saturday, 4-2.
The two could meet again at the conference tournament, April 27-30, in Shreveport.
Game One: Mee (2), Cross, Thomas collect hits
LSU-Shreveport used a 10-run third inning to take control of the opener. Eight singles and a double fueled the rally, with the Lions contributing a lone error and no walks.
Kyle Pearson (7-for-8 on Saturday, 9 RBI) had a pair of hits for four runs batted in during the eruption, including a three-run double deep down the leftfield line.
Freshman right-hander Jared Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) held the Pilots in check until the third, permitting no runs and two hits while striking out one.
Pisors (PY-surhs) threw 105 pitches, yielding 15 hits and 12 earned runs. He walked a pair and whiffed three. He got five batters out on ground balls and four in the air.
They tacked on a solo tally in the fourth and three in the fifth on just three hits.
Another local freshman, Nick Turley (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) pitched the final two innings, allowing three hits, no runs and fanned a batter.
SAGU scored their lone run on an infield single, which was hit deep in the hole to the shortstop by Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS), scoring Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS) from second base.
Cross reached base on a single, and after an out on a pop-up in foul territory, moved to second when Garett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) lined a hit to leftfield.
The rally ended when the next two batters struck out swinging and were retired on a fly to left.
SAGU had several good defensive plays, including two spinning catches in leftfield by junior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS). Strong wind gusts and a cloudless sky made conditions very difficult to catch flies.
The Lions also turned a sweet double play. Third baseman Montana Chitty (Lake Worth, Tx / Lake Worth HS) fielded a grounder, fired to Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) at second, before pivoting and throwing a dart to Mee at first. The latter had eight putouts at first.
The Pilots’ senior, Cade Bowen (3-2), tossed a four-hitter. He walked one and whiffed 11. SAGU didn’t have a hit until the third when Mee lined a single to shallow left.
Game Two: Chitty, Umphenour make it count
In the second game, the Purple Pride received a gritty pitching performance from two first year players; 6’2 freshman Chitty, a right-hander, and 6'3 Matt Umphenour (Chowchilla, Cal / Union HS), who made his first appearance of the spring.
Chitty walked just two and was touched for 20 base hits, though only three went for extra bases. He frustrated the Pilots, who continued to threaten, but stranded 10 runners on base.
It wasn’t until an eight-run sixth that he tired, finishing a 113-pitch effort.
The versatile Chitty leads the team in pitching appearances with 11, and had the lowest ERA among those with 10 or more innings pitched at 4.26.
Umphenour (UM-fin-OUR), whose hometown of Chowchilla (just north of Fresno) is known for two correctional facilities, bid his time this spring, waiting for his chance.
Also a wide receiver on the SAGU Lions (one reception for 23 yards), he made the most of his opportunity. His debut came in a pressure situation; bases loaded and no outs.
He retired the first batter - swinging, and sat down the next batter, a .294 hitter, who watched at a called third strike. After issuing a walk, he fanned a .311 hitter, who stood looking while the umpire rang him up.
The Lions, 0-3 against the Pilots last spring while yielding 36 runs, also went 0-3 the previous year, hit for 34 runs. The dugout came to life as Umphenour showed hit mettle!
He also made quick work of the River Pilots in the seventh.
Three batters went down on a grounder to third baseman Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS), and a deep fly to Cross in center before U-Man got the final out on a come-backer to the mound.
Senior Rory Young (4-2, 3.10 ERA) handcuffed the Jungle Kings on two hits through six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Jonathan Burnett, a junior, tossed a hitless seventh, getting one on strikes.
The Lions two solid hits, both singles.
Rusty Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Dallas Christian College, Maypearl HS) pounded a liner to right-center to lead off the bottom of the third.
Cross forced him on a fielder’s choice, and then stole second. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Mee pounded a hot smash up the middle that the Pilots’ shortstop Manny Estrada managed to field for a ground out, while Cross danced to third.
The threat was muzzled when Garett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) ripped a shot down the line that was gloved by Pearson, the first baseman.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Thomas sent a frozen rope down the rightfield line for the club’s second hit. He was thrown out in a close play, trying to leg the single into a double to end the inning.
SAGU turned another double play in the fifth. Reed Lavallee, the Pilots’ leadoff batter (.360 BA), hit a grounder to Sheffield at second. He snared the ball, sent a dart to Thomas, the shortstop, who then completed the 4-6-3 twinkilling with a laser to Mee at first. Mee again led the team in putouts with 10.
Lions have seven games remaining
SAGU was forced to forfeit a third game in the series due to a roster shortage of pitchers. The same decision was made for one game in next weekend’s series against Texas Wesleyan University.
Those games, originally slated for Waxahachie, have been moved to LaGrave Field, the home of the Ft. Worth Cats, a minor league baseball team.
SAGU will play the third place Rams, 30-12 overall, 14-6 in the RRAC, twice on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 1:00pm. TWU, ranked No. 26, has won 11 games in a row, and are 18-4 at home this season.
The Lions will wrap-up the regular season the following week. They play two against Dallas Christian College (16-29 record) on Tuesday, April 16, at Reverchon Park. The first game is set for a 2:00pm first pitch.
Huston-Tillotson University (9-36, 4-16 in RRAC) will play a three-game set on the campus field on April 19-20.
There is no Senior Day this season. SAGU, the youngest team in the league, has three juniors and no seniors.