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SAGU loses lead late in both games

Denton, Thomas collect five hits apiece

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team wrapped up their 20-13 season with a pair of tantalizing setbacks.

The Lions lost twice at home to Huston-Tillotson University, 5-4 and 13-5, leaving eleven runners on base in both games.

The missed opportunities summed up a season that had its share of them.

SAGU, the youngest team in the Red River Athletic Conference with 17 freshmen and eight sophomores, owned a 13-16 record on March 9. They finished at 14-34, which includes a pair of forfeits due to a lack of players.

Tillotson concluded a similar campaign at 12-42.

Each game witnessed a patchwork SAGU line-up that competed well.

They led 4-0 in the first game until the Rams rallied for three runs in the sixth to take the lead, 5-4.

In the nightcap, SAGU led 3-2 in the fifth, before yielding a 6-5 lead in the seventh to the Rams.

Tillotson tacked on seven late runs against the bullpen to pull away. Six infield errors helped grease the slide.

GAME ONE: Pisors concludes promising season

Varying conditions and injuries led to a line-up with only player in the same position they began the season; Jarrod Pisors (Dallas, Tx / Red Oak HS).

The six-foot-seven freshman pitcher absorbed the loss in the opener in spite of an impressive effort.

He scattered nine hits over six innings, giving way to Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), who just returned from the DL* after missing the last third of the season. Pisors struck out four and walked one.

A mess-up in rightfield proved costly.

The bottom of the Rams order strung together two hits and hit batsman by Pisors to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Eduardo Perez lined a two-run single to right-center to tie the game at 4-4.

Pisors got the ensuing batter to lift a fly to shallow right. Co-Captain Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS), just activated after missing half the season due to an injury, drifted over to make an easy grab. 

He was then knocked to the turf by the rightfielder, who was also trying to make the play. (See photo below of the catch)

The mishap (no one called for the ball) allowed Bryan Castillo to tag and score the winning run from third base.

Garett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Sheffield got on base with one out in the bottom of the sixth. After a fly out to center, co-captain Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) came to bat.

He ripped a line-drive in a bid to drive in the equalizer. The pitcher, Derrick Sampel, lunged to deflect the ball to the second baseman to snuff out the rally.

Sampel had a complete game, 10-hitter, walking three and hitting one. He struck out three and allowed four earned runs.

HT threatened in the top of the seventh against Killebrew.

Facing a two on with one out situation, he managed to retire the next two batters on grounders to Sheffield and shortstop Thomas. A sweet scoop at first by Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS) gave the Lions a final chance.

Rusty Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Dallas Christian College, Maypearl HS) was on base, but Sampel finished the Lions off with a groundout and a pair of strike outs.

Both teams had 10 hits, with the Lions also collecting three walks.

Using six hits in the first three innings, SAGU built a 4-0 lead.

Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS) walked and Denton pounded a double down the leftfield line to set the table.

Lance Marks (Nevada, TX / Central Christian College, Community HS) hit an RBI looping liner to center and Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS) knocked in Denton when his bunt single to third surprised the Rams.

Mee and Sheffield began the fourth with sharply hit grounders to set up shop for the middle of the order.

Rodriguez stroked a single to left to drive in one, before the Tillotson shortstop booted a Marks bouncer, sending Sheffield home.
SAGU only had three hits the rest of the way.

Tali Fletcher (Monohans, Tx / Monohans HS) collected his first career hit in the fourth before Denton and Hensel added singles in the bottom of the fifth.

Leading 4-2 and with a chance to pad the margin, Head Coach Jon Shockley sent up Bryant Threadgill (Whiteright, Tx / Dallas Christian College, Whiteright HS) to pinch hit. His two out flair to right was nabbed by a hustling Castillo.

Eight different players had hits for Team Purp, with Thomas and Denton, the team’s best two hitters each collecting two.

GAME TWO: Turley was tall, but 15 hits not enough

The nightcap saw the teams jockey for the lead. Tillotson grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second, then regain it, 4-3, with two in the fifth frame. The Rams took advantage of six SAGU errors, all by a makeshift infield, and added six stolen bases helping extend the lead to 5-3.

Thomas pounded a single to right to knock in Threadgill, who had singled with two outs and advanced to second on a walk by Mee. SAGU trailed 5-4 entering the seventh.

After the Rams tacked on a solo tally, the Lions mounted another threat.

Rodriguez, the muscled brute, was plunked in the arm with a pitch. He didn’t even feel it.

Denton followed with a screamer to left. A bunt by Marks, who excels at the skill, laid one down. It resulted in a double play with bang-bang outs at first, then at the plate, where the catcher, Eric Aldava, blocked the plate against pinch-runner, Matt Umphenour (Chowchilla, Cal / Union HS), before applying a tag on a throw from first baseman, Tim Ford.

The Rams pulled away with a five-run eighth, which was aided by a pair of errors. They added two more scores in the ninth on two walks and two singles.

SAGU’s final run of the season was added in the eighth.

Threadgill smoked a hit to left, but was forced at second on a grounder off the bat of Mee.

He raced around the bases on the best hit of the day. Thomas hammered a deep drive into the wind to the fence in right-center, a two-out RBI double.

The Lions first three runs came in the third inning.

Mee snapped a sharp single to left in front of a bending single to the same spot by Thomas. A bounder by Sheffield ricocheted off the shortstop’s wrist, allowing Mee to cross the dish.

After a strike out, Denton, who has been an Iron Man throughout the season, rapped a double to right-center as Thomas scurried home.

Marks walked to load the bases with two outs. Cross worked the count for an RBI base-on-balls for a 3-2 lead.

The game also featured the first collegiate base hit by Spencer Ming (Joplin, Mo / College Heights Christian), when he whacked a shot over the outstretched arms of a diving Levi Perez in centerfield.

Nick Turley (Ovilla, TX / Ovilla Christian HS), a 6’5 promising freshman, had a fine outing for the Jungle Kings. He went six and one third innings, yielding six runs, five earned, on nine hits, seven of them in the last three innings.

The bearded Turley also whiffed five and walked just two.

Killebrew and Sal Rico (Houston, Tx / Mt. Carmel) tossed the last three frames.

In all, freshmen pitchers started 39 of the 46 games this year.

Like the first game, the Lions left 11 runners stranded on base. They totaled 15 base hits and were walked thrice, but parlayed them into just five runs.

Thomas and Denton put on another clinic, each thumping three hits. Threadgill went 3-for-4 while Mee had a 2-for-4 game.

Fans can view and/or purchase from a list of action photographs from the two games at the Moving Pictures website. Steve Patterson, of Red Oak, serves the team as a freelance photographer. All images in this article were taken by Patterson.

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Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

*DL - Disabled List

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