Lions show mettle in Forth Worth
Squad show no signs of winding down
SAGU plays DH Tuesday in downtown Dallas
FORTH WORTH, Texas -- A recent slide by the baseball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University did little to deter the effort of a shorthanded squad in a Friday doubleheader.
Facing the red hot, No. 25 ranked Texas Wesleyan University (34-12, 17-6 in RRAC) on the road, SAGU battled tooth and nail during a pair of 5-2 setbacks at historic LaGrave Field.
Fresh from erupting for 45 runs in a three-game sweep at the University of the Southwest, the Rams had to work to extend their streak to 15 in a row.
SAGU went with a line-up comprised of 'green' players who have been used very sparingly, Head Coach Jon Shockley found something appealing.
“I’ll tell you something,” he said afterwards, “the guys just wanted to win. And they played like it. I am very proud of their effort.”
“Going up against a seasoned team on the road, we had as good a spirit and energy as we have all season. This was good baseball.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by a refined roster, mostly reserves and two players who hadn't seen action all season excelled in the fundamentals.
Albert Einstein once said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
It was an applicable truth on Friday. The 'new' acquaintenances were impressionistic.
“We (the coaching staff) like what we’re seeing from these young men,” Shockley added.
A Lions team with 17 freshmen and eight sophomores has endured much, and are still playing hard as the season nears a finish.
The Lions received two well-pitched games from freshmen.
Jarrod Pisors (Dallas, Tx / Red Oak HS) went the distance in the opener. Often deserving a better fate than being tagged with a loss, the promising 6-foot-7 right-hander limited the Rams to five hits. He walked one and struck out four.
An error at second base led to a first inning run, though the Rams display of power paved the way for three scores in the third frame. Jake Howeth doubled in a run before Henry Yates ripped a two-run homer to left for a 4-0 lead.
SAGU answered with two in the fourth.
Sophomore Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS) muscled a single to centerfield. Freshman Matt Umphenour (Chowchilla, CA / Chowchilla Union HS) checked in as a pinch-runner. He darted to third on a hit up the middle by junior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS).
Freshman Montana Chitty (Lake Worth, Tx / Lake Worth HS) grounded out to third, with Umphenour (UM-fin-OUR) dashing home. Denton crossed the dish when Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS) sent a smash through the left side.
The Lions had a scoring chance in the fifth. Tali Fletcher (Monahans, Tx / Monahans HS) and Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) walked. A wild pitch resulted in Fletcher being gunned down at third on a throw by the Rams’ catcher Brian White.
Wesleyan brought in Patrick Stanley to pitch the seventh. Looking like a closer, he struck out the side, the last two Lions going down swinging.
Despite outhitting the Rams 6-5, SAGU’s bid to win was turned away.
In the second game the Lions grabbed an early 1-0 lead off of unbeaten 6’5 junior Sam Martin. It wouldn’t hold up.
The hard-charging hosts, with 16 college transfers on their roster, replied with two in the bottom of the second. They tagged on three more in the third to seize control, 5-1.
SAGU scored once more in the top of the fifth, but were held without a hit or a baserunner the rest of the way by two relievers. The last 14 Lions were retired in order; seven of them on strikes, four of them caught shopping.
Wesleyan had an 8-5 advantage in hits.
Martin collected the win (9-0) with five innings of work. He surrendered a pair of earned runs on five hits while striking out six. The righty issued a lone walk.
Chitty (1-4) absorbed the loss. The freshman went three and one-third innings. He was touched for five runs; four of them earned. He also yielded six hits, walked two and fanned two.
Nick Turley (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian HS), a 6’5 freshman right-hander, continues his late-season push. He blanked the Rams over the final four and two-thirds innings on just two hits.
Wesleyan had opportunities for more scoring, thanks to successfully stealing seven-of-eight bases, but the Lions defense clamped down in the clutch.
Team Purple got on the board in the third with a two out rally.
Garett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), one of this season’s brightest spots, lined a single to right and moved to second when Sheffield was hit by a pitch.
Rodriguez protracted his improved hitting with a shot to centerfield. The single was too hot to handle, and was misplayed by Trevor Moon, allowing Thomas sprinted home for a 1-0 SAGU lead. A swinging strike-out stranded two runners.
After a fly out to center by freshman Spencer Ming (Joplin, Mo / College Heights Christian School), another greenhorn whose time has come, Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS) pulled a double that caused chalk to fly down the third base line.
The ensuing batter, Thomas, toting a .384 club, stroked a single to center to drive in Mee, a freshman who is swinging at a .333 clip. The next two batters flew out to right and whiffed to end the uprising.
Thomas had two of the Lions’ five hits. Sheffield had a two-out double to right-center, but was left on base.
SAGU (14-31, 4-20 in RRAC) has five games remaining in the regular season.
Catch the Lions in action this week!
The Purple Pride will meet Dallas Christian College in a Tuesday doubleheader. Starting at 2:00pm (CST), the games will be played at Reverchon Park, in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.
The second game will begin approximately 20-30 minutes after the end of the first, likely around 4:30-5:00pm.
It is the former home of Southern Methodist University baseball.
The main entrance to the park is at Maple Avenue and Turtle Creek Boulevard.
Fans attending the games should take 35 E north toward Dallas. Remain on 35, pass American Airline Center, then, just past the North Dallas Tollway, exit east onto Oak Lawn Avenue. Maple will be on the right.
SAGU wraps up the 2013 season next weekend when Huston-Tillotson University comes to town for a three-game set on campus. The young Rams are 10-40 for the year.
Friday’s solo game has a 2:00pm first pitch. A twinbill is on tap for Saturday beginning at noon.
The general public is welcome. Admission is free.