Denton bows up, Lions take pair from Hillsdale
Freshmen pitchers Burt, Ortiz shutdown Saints
Now 4-0, SAGU hosts doubleheader at WSC on Thursday
>Box Scores, Play-by-Play (access below)
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Despite a youth movement surrounding the outnumbered returning veterans, senior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) bowed up to lead Southwestern Assemblies of God University to a pair of big wins over Hillsdale College (Ok) on a cool, windy Saturday afternoon.
The Lions, who swept Hillsdale 3-2 and 11-0 on Friday at the Waxahachie Sports Complex, took the four game series with 17-0 and 17-4 victories at the campus ballpark.
Their best start in a decade improved SAGU’s record to 4-0. They will host Central Christian College (Ks) at 4:00pm (CST) Thursday at the WSC.
Denton was one of a handful of players who racked up a combined 43 hits on Saturday. He ripped eight hits in nine trips to the plate, highlighted by four frozen ropes to rightfield.
The likeable leader had three doubles and a triple to amass 13 total bases. Denton scored seven runs and drove in three.
His .727 batting average leads the Sooner Athletic Conference at the end of the first week of the season.
He is not alone. Three teammates also top the SAC leader board; Tallon Ralstin (Cortez, Colo / Cortez HS) in runs batted in (8), Jonathan Santiago (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS) in stolen bases (5) and Tucker Burt (North Richland Hills, Tx / Westlake Academy) in strikeouts per nine innings (6).
Simply stated, it was a very good debut for the Lions, Head Coach Sam Blackmon and his staff. Tough challenges await for SAGU, but there is plenty of room on the bandwagon for fans.
Playing their first 10 games in town is plenty reason to escape cabin fever and enjoy a team with 20 freshmen and sophomores who are bent on making an impact.
Speaking of impact, the squad unveiled new camouflage jerseys. The well received new look was no smokescreen.
"It was a solid pitching performance from tucker and tres (Pedro Ortiz in second game) in their debut," Coach Blackmon stated. "Plus, the defense also had another solid performance."
"Offensively we did a lot of good things, he added. "I'm really pleased with our execution in situational hitting. Jared had a big day at the plate as did Preston (Hornbeck), Nathan Bish and Nathaniel (Feliciano-Cruz)."
"Weekend wise, I was really proud of the focus and desire our players competed with."
Outscoring the Saints 48-6 in a 4-0 start is a far cry from the team that lost 18 of its last 19 games in 2013.
FIRST GAME SUMMARY
If it was possible to outshine a 20-hit attack in a 17-0 route it was the freshman hurler, Burt. The stout right-hander pitched six shutout innings while allowing only three hits to win his college debut.
The 6-foot-5 Burt whiffed six and did not allow a walk.
In a command performance the greenhorn breezed through the first two innings. He ran into trouble in the third.
Gage Pittman led off with a double to leftcenter. The following batter reached on a fielder’s choice that registered no out. A bunt moved the runners to second third with one out.
Facing the top of the Saints order and protecting a 1-0 lead, Burt bore down. He fanned junior Tyler Holton swinging, then retired Dillon Juby on a grounder to first baseman Nathaniel Feliciano-Cruz (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS).
He cruised the rest of the way.
SAGU bats came alive in the third and fourth with seven and nine run rallies.
Blackmon called on sophomore Sal Rico (Houston, Tx / Mt. Carmel) in the top of the seventh. The 5’9 righty faced the 4, 5 and 6 hitters in the Hillsdale lineup.
Much to the delight of the fans, t tttthe crafty knuckleballer struck them all out, each went down swinging.
The Lions hit parade included six for extra-bases as they broke the game open.
After Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / Heston JC) singled to center to knock in Josh Terry (Daingerfield, Tx / Daingerfield HS), catcher Nathan Bish (Euless, Tx / Lyon College) crushed a pitch to deep centerfield. Motoring round the bases his triple drove in Hornbeck and Denton for a 4-0 lead.
Ralstin singled through the hole at second to deliver Bish. The Saints later misplayed three balls that conceded a big inning.
In the fourth the 'Cat bats extended the lead, starting when Ralston gave the rawhide a joyride with a shot to deep rightfield. It was a two-run triple.
Feliciano ripped an RBI double to left. Later it was Denton again. He uncorked a double down the leftfield line that sent Terry and Feliciano scampering home.
Burt’s final inning showed he still had plenty left in the tank. In a 1-2-3 frame he threw out the first batter on a come-backer to the mound. The next two watched a third strike before sitting down.
Denton smacked two doubles and was 4-for-4 and scored as many times.
Ralstin had three hits in four at bats. He totaled four RBI’s. Hornbeck also posted a 3-for-4 game. Ten players had at least one hit.
The game lasted less than two hours (1:51).
GAME TWO REVIEW
Ditto the first game, though SAGU wasted little time in building a 10-0 advantage through two innings. Again, ten players had hits.
In all, the Purple Pride toted up seven doubles and a three-bagger for 23 hits.
Three doubles – by Hornbeck, Denton and Clay Gentle (Fredricksburg, Tx / Fredricksburg HS) keyed a six-run first.
SAGU tacked on four more runs in the second thanks to another Hornbeck double, this one pounded down the rightfield line. Feliciano, shopping at the Gap, stroked a double between right and center.
Meanwhile the Lions Pedro “Tres” Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS) was pitching efficiently. The lefthander didn’t surrender a hit until the third, when the Saints started with back-to-back singles.
A regrouped Ortiz whiffed the next two batters on swings before throwing out the ensuing batter on a ground ball.
He pitched five innings to collect the victory. Ortiz was touched for sit hits and three runs, though only one was earned. He struck out three and walked no one.
Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ. of Dallas) gave up two hits and a run in the sixth. Bryant Threadgill (Whitewright, Tx / Whitewright HS, Dallas Christian College) pitched a scoreless seventh.
Denton and Feliciano paced the attack, each with a 4-for-5 effort. The former scored three times while the latter drove in three.
Hornbeck and Gentle were credited with three hits. Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS) and Santiago both had two hits, with the latter collecting three RBI’s.
Defensively the Lions infield turned a double play. They also committed two errors, one at second base and the other in centerfield.
SAGU’s 4-0 start has witnessed the team hit a collective .606. Added to their batting prowess, the squad swiped eleven bases, five by Santiago.
The pitching staff finished the series with an 0.96 earned run average (ERA) and limited Hillsdale to .219 batting.
Click on the underlined score to view the box score. Click on the split blue box on the right for the game’s play-by-play.