Pitching and solid defense shine in twin setbacks
Burt, Ortiz give Lions chance to win against SNU
Crimson Storm edges SAGU, 5-1, 3-1; SAGU record slips to 5-3
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Current Standings: http://www.soonerathletic.org/
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University dropped two well-played games to Southern Nazarene University (Ok) on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The NCAA Division 2 Crimson Storm (3-1) scored a run in five separate innings en route to a 5-1 triumph in the opener. SNU snapped a 1-1 tie in the last inning of the nightcap with a pair of runs to claim a 3-1 victory.
SAGU slipped to 5-3 on the young season though they revealed their mettle against a solid opponent. The team received impressive pitching performances and stellar play by their defense.
GAME ONE: SNU 5-1
Facing a lineup with four batters with stout slugging percentages, Lions freshman fireballer Tucker Burt (North Richland Hills, Tx / Westlake Academy ) allowed four runs in five innings while striking out five in the opener.
Three of the runs came with two outs. The 6-foot-5 Burt, now 1-1, threw 87 pitches while scattering nine hits. He walked two.
A double to leftcenter by Ryan McIntosh drove in the first run in the top of the first.
The second saw Burt walk the second hitter. The following batter was awarded first base when he was hit by a pitch. He leaned over the plate before being plunked, a move that drew the ire of fans. A sacrifice bunt left the runners at second and third with two outs.
Burt bore down and struck out senior Ryan Brosnan, the Storm’s leadoff batter. Brosnan went 3-for-4 in the game.
SNU would come back with a bang in the third.
With one down, senior catcher Chance San Miguel (5’10, 210) pulled a fastball deep over the 30-foot tall fence, 320 feet from the plate. He got all of it.
Later, against left-handed reliever Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ. of Dallas ), San Miguel blasted an RBI double to left-center for the final run.
SAGU tallied their lone run against 6’3 junior righty Thomas Schellhardt in the third.
Nathaniel Feliciano-Cruz (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS ) started things with a base on balls, then advanced to second when Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS ) singled to center. Eric Hagstrom (Universal City, Tx / Lubbock Chr ) loaded the bases when he managed a walk with no outs.
Jonathan Santiago (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS ), batting second in the order, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that allowed Feliciano to score. A groundout by shortstop Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / Heston JC ) ended what could have been a big inning.
The hosts had another scoring situation in the next frame.
Catcher Nathan Bish (Euless, Tx / Lyon College (Ark) ) reached base on a two-out error, then moved to second when Tallon Ralstin (Cortez, Colo / Cortez HS ) ripped a hit to left-centerfield.
Dillon Feland (FEE-lan) gloved the would-be RBI, pivoted and fired in time to first baseman Tyler Wilson.
The improved Lions defense turned in another error-free performance.
GAME TWO: SNU 3-1
The game was a pitcher’s duel between a pair of southpaws; the Lions left-hander Pedro “Tres” Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS ) and 6’3 Kyle Vail. Both surrendered one run.
Team Crimson got on the board first. In the fourth a walk to San Miguel preceded a McIntosh shot into the left-center alley.
SAGU had a golden opportunity in their half of the fifth.
Senior Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Lance Marks (Nevada, Tx / Community HS, Central Christian College (Ks) ) both rapped hits; Shef’s was an infield single, Marks a line drive to right. Collin Gifford (Dodge City, Ks / Dodge City HS ) and Hagstrom entered as pinch-runners.
Schneider reached base on a fielder’s choice, forcing Hagstrom and advancing Gifford to third. Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksbrg HS ) sent a bounder to the shortstop. His miscue allowed Gifford to dart across the plate to knot the score at 1-1.
Hornbeck went down swinging, leaving the bases loaded.
The Lions would not get a runner to first in the sixth or seventh innings. Vail retired the final seven batters he faced on three infield groundouts, a foul pop-up and three on strikes.
He pitched a complete game three-hitter, walking two and fanning six.
The Storm pushed across two runs in the seventh for the win. Ortiz conceded a single and a walk to start the frame, then gave way to freshman Brendan Martinez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Timber Creek HS ), a righty.
Austin Samulowitz, a senior, batting left-handed, poked an RBI single past second base for what would become the game-winning score.
A passed ball by the Lions catcher proved costly as both runners moved up a base. After Martinez retired the next batter on a pop-up to third, an error at second allowed a second run.
The misplayed ball by Santiago was SAGU’s only error on Saturday. In comparison, SNU had five.
Martinez escaped further damage by coaxing a shallow fly to Ralstin in right and a groundout to Gentle at third.
The Storm finished with a 4-3 edge in base hits.
SAGU’s first year Head Coach Sam Blackmon saw plenty to like in the two contests.
“I was extremely pleased with the way Tucker and Tres threw in their starts today,” he said. “Jeremy and Brendan also pitched well.”
“Defensively we were solid again,” he continued. “We need to continue to build off these two components (pitching and defense) of our game.”
“Offensively, we had opportunities in both games as well. We came up short in a couple of them in each game.”
“Their pitchers were part of the reason (we didn't score more runs), and I tip my hat to both of them,” Blackmon added. “Southern Nazarene threw well today.”
“In all, I was very pleased with the way our guys competed today. Our progression has been measureable and visual as a team. We have work to get done but I like the way we’re moving ahead.”
SAGU hosts doubleheaders on campus, Friday & Saturday
The Lions are off until Friday and Saturday when they welcome Wiley College (Tx) for a pair of doubleheaders on February 14-15.
Both days will begin at noon at the campus ballpark.
The Wildcats are currently 0-4 following a trip to Kansas where they met Sterling College and Friends University. A preview of the series will be posted later in the week.
SAGU has begun the season with their first eight games at home. Four more are coming this week.
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