Baseball Lions host four games this weekend
Twinbills Friday at the Wax. Sports Complex; Saturday on campus
Pitching rotation set: Pisors, Killebrew, Burt, Ortiz
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- When Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) fires the first pitch of the 2014 season at four o’clock on Friday, it will mark several firsts for the Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team.
Like the famous orange-flavored drink, Tang, the need for fresh flavor in SAGU’s baseball recipe is getting just what it needs. The hope is that it’s better than the newfangled orange-pineapple.
The Lions haven’t finished above the break-even line in the sport of spring since joining the NAIA. As new members in the toughest conference, the Sooner Athletic Conference, things will not get any easier.
Plus, the reins to the team are now in the hands of new Head Coach Sam Blackmon. His formula for turning things around appears to be good, old fashioned hard work.
If “Doing things the right way” sounds like getting back to basics, it is. It’s also a proven method for building a sound team.
The Lions, 14-34 a year ago, will have only ten incumbents returning. They are meshing in 19 newcomers.
SAGU introduces the new-look squad when they host Hillsdale College (Ok) in a four-game series that consists of two doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.
It will be the team’s first contest since joining the SAC, the first for Coach Blackmon and the initial collegiate action for most of the ballclub.
Friday’s twinbill against Hillsdale takes place at the Waxahachie Sports Complex while Saturday’s games will commence at noon at the campus park.
The WSC is equipped with bleachers, lights, restrooms and concessions.
A new scoreboard, sponsored by Citizens National Bank, adorns the playing field adjacent to the Sheaffer Center.
SAGU has won seven of the past ten games against the Saints and are 11-7 over the past five seasons.
The Lions’ probable starting pitchers for the four games begins with Pisors (PY-sers), a 6-foot-7, sophomore right-hander. He led the squad in starts (13), innings (68.2) and complete games (3) last spring. His walks to strike outs ratio was solid at 20 to 48.
Getting the nod in the nightcap is his former high school teammate, sophomore Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS). Also a righty, Killebrew is 6’2. He was one of four hurlers on the team who earned a team-best two wins in 2013.
The WSC is located just few miles north of campus; on Broadhead Road just north of the bridge at Highway 287. The complex is on the left (west) across from the Whataburger and Showbiz Theatre.
Enter the park and turn right. Diamond #7 is in the back corner. Admission is free.
Saturday’s action starts at noon. A pair of freshmen will pitch Game 3 and Game Four; Tucker Burt (N.Richland Hills, Tx /Westlake Academy) and Pedro Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS), respectively.
Burt is a 6’5 right-hander while the southpaw Ortiz stands 5’9.
Insiders report the Lions will start senior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) as the Game One battery mate at catcher. The veteran hit .365 and drove in 33 runs during his junior season.
The salty Denton paced Team Purp with 16 extra-base hits and toted a .513 slugging percentage.
Three other catchers should see action; Brendan Martinez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Keller Timber Creek HS), Lance Marks (Nevada, Tx / Community HS, Central Christian College) and Nathan Bish (Euless, Tx / Lyon College).
The starting line-up in the infield could see sophomore Raul Castro (Garland, Tx / Hillsdale College) at first. The former Hillsdale player is 6’2 and carries a big stick.
Bryant Threadgill (Whitewright, Tx / Whitewright HS, Dallas Christian College), also a sophomore, led the 2013 team with a pair of round-trippers, including a grand slam. He will battle Castro to play at first.
Fans will get a first-hand look at a lively middle infield.
Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / Heston JUCO) is a junior transfer who looks to secure the shortstop position, with Jonathan Santiago (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS) manning second base. Both are new and will be tested by the bats in the SAC.
At the hot corner are two with asbestos gloves, senior Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and freshman Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksburg HS). Each will start this weekend.
Roaming in the outfield are six who have the early favor at winning the positions.
Starting in leftfield is freshman Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS). Fan favorite reserve is Tali Fletcher (Monahans, Tx / Monahans HS), a hard-working senior.
Senior Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ of Dallas) looks to start in centerfield. He made the most of his opportunities late in the 2013 season. He will be pushed by freshman Collin Gifford (Dodge City, Ks / Dodge City HS).
Rightfield could be anchored by Tallon Ralstin (Cortez, Colo / Cortez HS) and sophomore Eric Hagstrom (Universal City, Tx / Lubbock Christian Univ).
This weekend’s Designated Hitters will possibly go in this order; freshman Josh Terry (Daingerfield, Tx / Daingerfield HS), Hagstrom, Threadgill and Nathaniel Feliciano-Cruz (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS).
SAGU begins the season with 10 straight home games.
The team hosts Central Christian College (Ks) next Thursday, February 6. Played at the WSC, the doubleheader has a 4:00pm (CST) first pitch.
SAGU fans can re-live home games when LiveStats are posted on the NAIA website at the same time as box scores. No audio, video or live version of home dates is currently available.
The SAC website schedule is equipped with icons next to SAGU road games. Click there to access the coverage.
NOTE: The Lions schedule and roster are posted on the SAGU Athletic website.
SAC Website: Current standings, scores, schedules and rosters for all 10 teams in the Sooner Athletic Conference can be found at: http://www.soonerathletic.org/
Click on SPORTS, then baseball.