Castro lights up the sky, goes 7-for-8 against Royals
SAGU, Ecclesia share wins in Tuesday's twinbill
Lions prepare for final road trip to No. 12 OKC Stars
Follow three-game series on video livestream
Box Score, Play-by-Play, Player Stats (below)
Current Standings: http://www.soonerathletic.org/
SOPHOMORE SLUGGER: Raul Castro.WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Signed for his potent bat, sophomore Raul Castro has spent much of his first season at Southwestern Assemblies of God University making an impact with his glove and arm. Until the past week.
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning of a seven inning game to St. Gregory’s University last Friday, the colorful Castro was summoned to pinch hit.
Struggling like a beached trout, his batting average was well below .200.
And he delivered, crushing a drive to the fence in right-centerfield for an RBI triple. It triggered the rally that led the Lions to an eventual 3-2 triumph.
Tuesday night he upped the ante with a breakout performance in a doubleheader against Ecclesia College (Ark).
Toting a .189 piece of lumber against a team that was riding an 11-game winning streak, he unloaded a 4-for-4 game that keyed a 13-6 rout of the Royals in the first game.
In the nightcap he added three more hits, though SAGU took a 9-6 defeat on the chin.
The split gives the Purple Pride an 18-21 overall record heading into a critical nine-game stretch drive to finish the regular season. SAGU is 8-10 against teams in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
The Lions goal of qualifying for the SAC tournament is in sight, though to get there they must produce while running through a gauntlet of No. 12 Oklahoma City University (25-12), No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist University (33-6) and Northwood University (23-17).
Another aim is to meet the requirements to compete in the *NCCAA Central Regional. They need two more wins to get there.
In Game One against Ecclesia (ECK-less-SEE-ya) Castro had the finest game of his young collegiate career. He smacked three doubles and the first home run since graduating from Richardson's (Tx) Berkner High School.
All three doubles were driven deep into the power alley. As for 'dialing nine for long distance,' the homer was a moon shot well beyond the wall in left-center. That’s 10 total bases in one game. He had 12 (in 23 games) prior to Tuesday.
In the nightcap he added a 3-for-4 showing, thumping two singles and then belting a bases-loaded triple to the wall in rightfield.
The 7-for-8 effort jacked his average to .293.
Born in Durango, Mexico, Castro moved to the Metroplex. Playing for the Berkner Rams he was named captain in his senior season. He earned All-District honors at first base and was the All-City Most Valuable Offensive Player.
A year ago at Hillsdale College (Moore, Ok), the 6’2 Castro assembled an impressive .300 batting average. Then he decided to transfer to SAGU.
Observers easily expected him to adopt President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Instead he made plays with his glove at first base and in rightfield, where he once turned in a sensational diving catch.
Head Coach Sam Blackmon turned to him as a reliever and found plenty to like. Fearless, strong and crafty, Castro has earned three saves, a 1-0 record and a 3.68 earned run average. Opponents have collectively hit just .228 against the right-hander.
His bat was as dangerous as a cap-gun. Dormant. Until Friday.
Since then he has resembled the meaning of his surname; fortress. With artillery.
The Lions jumped out to a 10-2 lead through four innings against Ecclesia. Bats were cracking to the tune of 18 hits; five doubles, a triple and one HR. The team also swiped three bases.
Supporting Castro were three players with three base hits; Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS), Eric Hagstrom (Universal City, Tx / Converse Judson HS, Lubbock Christian Univ) and Jonathan Santiago (Arlington, Tx / Bowie HS).
Denton swatted a two-bagger and a triple and, like Castro, drove in two runs.
After the Royals drew to within 10-5, the Lions tacked on three more in the bottom of the sixth.
That’s when Castro went yard. He evicted the ball, voting it off the island on a 1-0 pitch.
Later in the frame it was pinch-hitter Matthew Scheaffer (Crockett, Tx / Crockett HS, Howard Payne Univ) delivering a two-run single to left.
Senior Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ. of Dallas) benefitted from the offensive outburst. He hurled a complete-game eight-hitter. The left-hander, now 3-3, surrendered six runs, though two were unearned.
Cross walked three and struck out four during a 116-pitch performance.
The second game was a case of the Royals getting a jump on SAGU pitching before they found their groove.
They got to 6-foot-5 freshman Tucker Burt (N.Richland Hills, Tx / Westlake Academy) for three in the first. The Royals added single runs in the third and fourth before scoring twice in the fifth and sixth.
Pedro "Tres" Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS) and Collin Gifford (Dodge City, Ks / Dodge City HS) went the final six innings.
The Lions equaled the Royals’ 13 hits, but failed to capitalize several times with runners in scoring position. A pop-up with two outs left the bases loaded in the first and another infield flair stranded two in the third.
Backing Castro’s hot bat were Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS) and Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksbrg HS). They each rapped two hits.
Schneider lined a double that kicked up chalk down the rightfield line in the first, and then advanced to third when Gentle singled sharply to right. Denton stroked an RBI single to center to cut the deficit to 3-1, but the Lions never got closer.
Later in the game the bases were cleared after Castro went shopping at the ‘Gap.’ His triple sent Hagstrom, Denton and Threadgill racing around the horn.
He scored when Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx/ McKinney HS, Hesston College) singled through the hole near second base.
SAGU at Oklahoma City on Friday night, Saturday
The Lions take their game and their goals to Jim Wade Stadium in OKC this weekend. The Stars have dropped three-of-four and are 5-5 in their past 10 outings.
OKCU, 19-5 at home, have the conference’s third best hitting attack and pitching ERA. They have hit a league-leading 40 homers in 38 games.
SAGU is 8-6 in their most recent 14 games. They will most likely start Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Ortiz in the three-game series.
A preview of the series will be posted on Friday.
Livestream video will be available for the three-game set. Access at: http://www.ocusports.com/schedule.aspx?path=baseball&
This is the final road trip of the regular season for SAGU. The team returns home to face Oklahoma Baptist (Apr. 17-18) and Northwood (Apr. 25-26).
Seniors will be honored during the final homestand.
Box Scores and Play-by-Play: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Team/TeamSchedule.aspx?association=10&sg=MBA&sea=NAIMBA_2014&team=1778
Click on the underlined score to view the box score. Click on the split blue box icon on the right to see the game’s play-by-play account.
Individual Player Statistics: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Team/IndividualStats.aspx?association=10&sg=MBA&sea=NAIMBA_2014&team=1778