Cross, Denton team-up for special triumph
Upending No. 20 Texas Wesleyan a rite of passage?
Southpaw addresses the inner-workings of a drought-ending win
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- It wasn’t just any win. It was a regular season victory on the road against a conference foe.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University had ended a long-time string of defeats at the hands of Texas Wesleyan University.
Though the schools are separated by only a 45 minute drive, it had been years since the Lions had come close to knocking off the perennial power.
Played at historic LaGrave Field – which has seen the likes of Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson play there, the Lions laid to rest a 27-game losing streak to the Rams.
Senior lefthander Jeremy Cross collected the win with a complete game three-hitter. He gave up two runs in the second then shut the door the rest of the way to improve his record to 2-1.
“The win was huge for our program and the school,” he said the next day. “We have all worked so hard up to this point. So, to see it pay off with a big win against a very good team is so encouraging and rewarding.”
SAGU still trails in the series between the Metroplex area teams, but the victory over No. 20 ranked Texas Wesleyan was heartening for a young Lions unit.
“This was definitely a team win,” said the native from Americus, Georgia (between Columbis and Macon). The Lions battled back from a two-run deficit to win on a Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) grounder that scored Josh Terry (Daingerfield, Tx / Daingerfield HS) in the fifth.
“It took all of us coming together and focusing on our goal to accomplish this,” Cross continued. “The defense played great. I have so much confidence in those guys when I am on the mound.”
“Plus, Jared (Denton) called a great game behind the plate. I can't brag on him enough. He knew weaknesses of the hitters and together we were able to exploit them.”
Cross moved to Texas when he was young. He graduated from Harker Heights High School, 55 miles southwest of Waco. Before transferring to SAGU a year ago, he also attended Howard Payne University and the University of Dallas.
“The chemistry that JD and I are developing as pitcher and catcher combo is pretty cool,” he said of Denton. “It was on-point for this game. I knew what pitch he was going to call before he called it, and I knew where he wanted it before he told me.”
Last spring he did not pitch, though he did play in 13 games, mostly in the outfield.
The 5-foot-10 Cross said that his two seam fastball was effective against the Rams. Tailing away from right-handed hitters, it often resulted in ground balls to the right side of the infield.
Affective together as a battery, the pair also pointed out the result of the curveball that Cross was throwing. It resulted in a number of Rams rolling over on the pitch, topping grounders to Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksbrg HS) at third base.
“Ending that losing streak against them was such a great accomplishment for our program,” Cross explained. “We know how good of a team we are capable of being. That win showed the direction that we are headed.”
“Getting the opportunity as a pitcher this year has been a humbling experience. I have to give all of the glory to God.”
“I have felt like David (from the Bible) all year. I have had to step up and be a leader at a position that I was not very familiar with. But through my weakness God has shown His strength. Against the Rams we slayed a giant.”
“Until about a month ago I was strictly an outfielder,” Cross pointed out. “So, for the coaching staff to trust me enough to get the job done really shows how much confidence they have in me.”
Sam Blackmon is in his first year as Head Coach with the Lions. Chris Semprun, the Pitching Coach, is developing a bullpen that continues to make progress.
Hopefully the performance of Cross and his team is a harbinger of things to come.
At the halfway mark in the club’s season, there are 24 games remaining. Fifteen are scheduled at home; nine at the Waxahachie Sports Complex and six are set for the campus field.