Ward Tames Mustangs, 5-2
Wherland, Jett, Chavez lead hit-parade
By Mark “Link” Warde
HOBBS, New Mexico -- Senior lefthander Cameron Ward (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) fired a three-hit complete game victory as Southwestern Assemblies of God University split a doubleheader with the University of the Southwest on Friday afternoon.
A standout on a staff in which he is the lone pitcher with more than one win, Ward scattered three hits and surrendered a single earned run to boost his won-lost record to 4-3. He gave up three walks and struck out four.
“It was one of the best games ever pitched by Cam in his career at SAGU,” Clay Scarborough, the Lions’ pitching coach said following the game. “He continues to pitch like a senior. Simply put, it was a great game by Cam.”
Catcher Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) was detailed in his praise of his battery mate. “He had no-hitter stuff. Cam was able to throw five (different) pitches for strikes.”
No wonder he was able to keep the Mustangs off-balance. The only mistake Ward made came in the bottom of the fourth when Omar Villar, the #7 batter, tagged him with a solo home run (his 6th) to tie the game, 2-2.
Jones cranks game-winning HR
Southwestern regained the lead in the sixth. With one out, the Lions’ #6 batter Jared Jones (Copperas Cove, Tx / Copperas Cove HS) crushed an inside pitch, driving it deep down the leftfield line. His blast “went yard” and the Lions had were on the good side of a 3-2 lead. It would be the only hit during the twinbill for the shortstop – but what a timely bomb!
Head Coach Greg Hayes kept the Cat Bats from getting content.
Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS), the junior leadoff catalyst, jump-started a rally. He lined a one-out hit. Ward advanced him to second with a strategic groundout. The aptly named Jett broke for third base. Having only been thrown out once in over twenty attempted steals, his judgment has seldom failed. His daring dart surprised Gary Valenzuela, the first baseman. His throw sailed past Ysidoro Reyna and Jett motored home.
SAGU tacked on another run in the same inning. Patrick Wherland (Petrolia, Tx / Petrolia HS) and DuJuan Prater (Copperas Cove, Tx / Copperas Cove HS) hit consecutive doubles in the gap for a 5-2 seventh inning advantage.
Mastering the Mustangs
Methodical as clockwork, Ward corralled the Mustangs. In the ninth he sat down the first two batters before allowing a hit. He capped the masterful performance by getting the final out on a ground ball to sophomore third baseman Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS).
The Lions outhit the Mustangs by a 10-3 count. Jett and Wherland, as they have throughout the season, were the cogs in the SAGU wheel. Both stars produced three hits in four trips to the plate.
Ben Chavez (Roswell, NM / NMMI, Gateway HS), Prater, Jones and Hensel each rapped solo hits.
The Lions took an early 2-0 lead. It started with two outs in the second.
Chavez (Chah-vehz), a transfer who is a mix of both moxie and an effectuous spirit, scored when he charged around the bags on a Hensel double to the rightfield corner. An inning later Jett smacked a double and trotted home when Wherland swatted another of the Lions’ six doubles.
Ward, who has several complete game gems this year, kept the Ponies at bay. USW is the fourth best hitting team in the Red River Athletic Conference, swinging a collective .302 average. Only six were able to lift a fly beyond the infield, with leftfielder Sean Armstrong (Albuquerque, NM / Manzano HS) and Jett snaring five of them. Villar’s HR was the other.
Hensel had five assists and Jones a pair to lead the infield’s support of Ward.
Game Two: Southwest 12-7 SAGU Lions
An encore in the nightcap went awry quickly. A nine run second inning was fueled by a shaky start by southpaw, Nic Morgan (Ft. Worth, Tx / LeTourneau Univ).
The junior has had better days. His bid to keep the ball away from the Mustangs led to a three-run first frame, as a pair of walks and two hit batters set up seven hits and USW scored twelve unanswered runs for a 12-1 lead
Junior RHP Chris Stanley (Harker Heights, Tx / Ellison HS) came in to permit three unearned runs on three hits in about five innings of solid relief work. He struck out four. Trevor Schexneider (Elizabethtown, Ky / Elizabethtown HS), also a junior, tossed two perfect innings to close the game.
Once again the Lions outhit the Mustangs, this time 15-11. The squad never quit chipping away at the deficit until the end. Southwestern, even with the hits, struggled to put them together in succession, leaving many runners stranded on base. The team had twenty men reach base, but only seven could reach home safely.
Eleven of the hits came from four players who hit #1, #3, #5 and #7 in the line-up. Jett rapped three in four trips to the plate. Wherland was even better. He stroked four in five attempts. Denton and Chavez each collected a pair. The rest of the club went 4-for-20.
The Lions did accrue seven runs. Jett, who had doubled, was sent home when Wherland singled up the middle for a 1-0 lead. Wherland powered a double in the third stanza and was knocked in on a fielder’s choice by Denton.
Chavez started the fourth with a base hit. Hensel pounded a shot that could be described as similar to Rush Limbaugh; to the right and fair. His blast went to the wall and Chavez scampered home on the triple. Hensel was deserted on third as two outs silenced the would-be uprising.
The Lions added another score in the sixth. With two outs and two on base, Jett hit an RBI single to drive in Jones, who had walked.
SAGU scored in six of nine innings, but only one was a crooked number. It came in the seventh. Following a Wherland single and base on balls to Prater, Denton smoked an RBI double. A two-out, clutch single by Chavez scored Denton. The Lions trailed 12-6.
Westin Lippe (Huntsville, Tx / Alpha-Omega HS), a freshman with great upside, clouted a one-out double, pulling it down the leftfield line in the eighth. He came home on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Prater.
Southwestern (9-27, 4-22 in the RRAC) and Southwest (12-30, 8-18 in RRAC) will play the rubber game in the three-game series on Saturday at noon (MST). The Lions didn’t announce who would start, though Jones is the likely choice. Along with Michael Reeves (Ovilla, Tx, Ovilla Christian), the pair of sophomores are SAGU’s hardest throwers.
The Lions have a twinbill on tap for Tuesday, April 19, against Dallas Christian College. The action starts with a 2:00pm first pitch at Reverchon Park. The celebrated field in the Oak Lawn area along Dallas’ Turtle Creek once served as the home for Southern Methodist University until 1980.
Senior Day, April 22
The 2011 regular season ends with a three-game homestand against Texas College during April 22-23. The Friday night opener will also spotlight the club’s three senior players in a 6:00pm ceremony.
The Steers and Lions will play a noon double-dip on Saturday.
SAGU hosts Central Regional
Southwestern will play host to the Central Regional tournament for the National Christian College Athletic Association during May 10-12. The event will be played at the Waxahachie Sports Complex on Broadhead Street.
Participating teams will be made official in the next two weeks. SAGU will be among the clubs competing for a berth in the May 18-21 NCCAA national championship. That tourney is scheduled to be played at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio.