Baseball Lions show teeth in 12-inning loss
SAGU clinches first-ever conference tournament berth
Hornbeck, Cross, Ralstin, Ortiz, Burt produce solid numbers
Lions to play three-games in SAC tourney, May 2-4
Final SAC Standings: http://www.soonerathletic.org/
Access to Player Stats posted below
SAC Tournament Bracket (click here)
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team finished the regular season with a disheartening 6-3 loss in 12 innings to Northwood University on Saturday.
After failing to cash in on a handful of scoring opportunities the Lions finally succumbed to a Northwood team that continued their mastery over SAGU.
Carlos Contreras poked a two-out, three-run double down the third baseline in the top of the 12th that snapped a 3-3 deadlock. The NAIA’s sixth best hitter at .447 had been held to a 1-for-5 game until he reached for an 0-2 pitch that he bounced just over the bag.
Contreras completed the three-game series with six hits in 13 trips to the plate.
The Knights (32-18 / 19-7 in SAC) also took both ends of Friday’s doubleheader by scores of 8-1 and 8-2. SAGU (18-30 / 8-19 in SAC) came up short for the tenth consecutive game, the last nine against teams that were ranked nationally.
No SAGU team over the past decade won as many conference games as this year’s Purple Pride. In fact, the past five years combined league mark is 13-93.
SAGU still clinched their first-ever berth in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament, which will take place next weekend. The team went 5-44 in the Red River Athletic Conference the last two campaigns.
The Lions will play No. 15 Oklahoma City University (32-16 / 20-7 in SAC) at 6:00pm on Friday, Northwood on Saturday and Texas Wesleyan University (26-24 / 15-12 in SAC) on Sunday afternoon. The last two games are set for 1:00pm starts.
A preview of the tournament will be posted on Thursday.
Here is a summary, in reverse order, of the series against Northwood, who have now taken 19 in a row from the Lions:
Knights 6-3 over Lions in 12 innings
SAGU outhit Northwood, 13-11, and made numerous defensive gems, but stranded a whopping 15 runners on base in a setback directly related to missed opportunities. The Knights left seven on base.
After surrendering two runs in the first frame, freshman lefthander Tres Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS) hamstrung the Knights during six straight innings while Team Purple battled back.
In the bottom of the seventh the Lions netted two runs to even things at 2-2.
Junior Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / McKinney HS, Hesston College) smacked a looping liner to left before a sacrifice bunt off the bat of senior Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) moved him to second. Freshman Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksburg HS) was plunked in the back and, along with Hornbeck, advanced into scoring position when a balk was cited against Matt Contreras.
Senior centerfielder Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS, Univ of Dallas) then ripped a clutch, two-run two-bagger into the gap in left-center to score Hornbeck and Gentle. Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS), a feisty freshman outfielder, singled to shallow right but no additional scoring transpired.
Two expensive errors by the Lions led to the Knights grabbing a 3-2 lead in the eighth.
Gentle’s throw from second base was off-line after fielding a Casey Mullinex grounder. Trying to keep Mullinex from swiping second; he had 16 steals, Ortiz threw to Bryant Threadgill (Whitewright, Tx / Whitewright HS, Dallas Christian) several times. His third bid was wide, allowing the runner to race easily to third base.
An Isaac Maturino sacrifice bunt to third scored Mullinex with an unearned run.
The Lions, who needed a win to qualify for a place in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional, rallied for the equalizer in their half of the inning.
Senior catcher Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) was plunked in the ribs with a pitch, leading Head Coach Sam Blackmon to insert freshman Eric Hagstrom (Universal City, Tx / Converse Judson HS, Lubbock Christian) to run for him. Threadgill was safe at first on a fielder’s choice attempt to give the Lions two-on with no outs. Freshman Tallon Ralstin (Cortez, Colo / Cortez HS), who turned in a pair of splendid grabs in right, bunted both runners into scoring position.
Hornbeck scratched the itch by stroking an RBI single to shallow centerfield. A pop-up to third and a groundout to second marooned two runners.
Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) was summoned from the bullpen to relive Ortiz (122 pitches), who logged eight innings, scattering seven singles and fanning five.
He crowned the Knights over the next three innings, giving up only a pair of two-out hits.
SAGU had a golden opportunity to escape with a 4-3 triumph in the bottom of the ninth. Playing in front of their largest crowd of the spring, the team put the leadoff batter, Cross, on second base. A grounder to Luis Roman saw the third-baseman sail his throw all the way to Ennis as Cross dashed into scoring position.
Sophomore Raul Castro (Garland, Tx / Berkner HS, Hillsdale College) bunted him to third, forcing Northwood to issue intentional passes to Denton and Hornbeck. The bases were loaded with one out.
A pinch-hitter grounded to third, forcing Cross at the plate, before another fielder’s choice snuffed out the scoring bid.
The Lions got only a Hornbeck single over the next two innings before Northwood broke the deadlock in the twelfth. Hornbeck, who has had four, three-hit games this season, finished with five in six at bats.
A walk to the leadoff batter and a bunt single set the table for the Knights winning rally.
Pisors (5-6) was tagged with the loss, his fourth straight. He was touched for four hits over four innings. The game-winning double was the only extra-base hit for the Knights.
SAGU muffed other chances to score in the second and third, stranding two runners each time.
With one out, Denton tripled past a diving leftfielder in the sixth. A shallow fly to right and a swinging strikeout wasted the threat.
'Coach Speak' by Sam Blackmon
“I was really proud of the effort and response today after the two tough games yesterday,” Coach Blackmon said afterwards.
“I thought after the first inning, Tres settled in and did a great job! Defensively we played well behind him. Jarrod came in and threw well also.”
“We had our opportunities offensively,” he added. “A few of those that slipped away early (in the game) ultimately came back to haunt us.”
“I think this team has come a long way,” he said, to the surprise of no one. “To have made the conference tournament in the Sooner speaks volumes about the hard work and dedication of each of these players. I'm extremely proud of them!”
Prior to Saturday’s game the four senior players were recognized; Denton, Sheffield, Cross and Tali Fletcher (Monahans, Tx / Monahans HS). All four played during the game.
“I think our four seniors have helped set a different standard and our young guys have continued to work hard and build their game each week,” praised Blackmon.
Northwood 8-8, SAGU 1-2
The Knights jumped on sophomore starters Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Pisors for quick leads en route to 8-1 and 8-2 victories on Friday afternoon.
They led 7-0 after three in the opener and used a seven-run second stanza to seize the identical lead in the second game. SAGU batters came to life later in each contest, but couldn’t overcome Northwood’s hasty command.
Fortunately, six-foot-five freshman Tucker Burt (North Richland Hills, Tx / Westlake Academy) entered both games and check-mated the potent Knights the rest of the way. He blanked them over the final four innings in the first game, allowing three hits and retired three choking on a splinter.
In the nightcap he hurled four and two thirds of an inning, yielding just one earned run on three hits. He whiffed four. Burt did not surrender a walk in almost nine, combined innings on the hill. Over the two games he threw 96 pitches and gave up a lone score.
Northwood pitching limited the Lions to four hits in the first game, with Castro collecting two of them. A groundout by Gentle scored Hornbeck with the team’s run the Game One.
The Pride collected five hits in the next game. A two-for-two outing by Cross led the way. Schneider and Castro each drove in a run.
Cross bunted safely and Josh Terry (Daingerfield, Tx / Daingerfield HS) pounded a double to leftfield in the sixth. Schneider singled past the third baseman and a sacrifice fly to right by Castro produced the team’s runs.
Final Regular Season Player Statistics: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Team/IndividualStats.aspx?association=10&sg=MBA&sea=NAIMBA_2014&team=1778