Hounds gain Sunday baseball split

Freedom Newspapers

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — The Eastern New Mexico University baseball team opened its season by going 1-3 in the Southwest Shootout hosted by Tarleton State.

The Greyhounds split two games Sunday, including a 10-4 whipping of the host Texans behind a complete-game nine-hitter from sophomore right-hander Kelly Crain.

In its second game of the day, ENMU overcame a six-run deficit before losing in the bottom of the seventh to St. Mary’s 9-8.

“This is the kind of club we’ve been waiting for; they battled their butts off,” Eastern coach Phil Clabaugh said. “I can’t tell you how many two-strike hits we got this weekend.”

On Saturday, Eastern suffered injuries to starting catcher Brian Green (MCL) and second-game starter Ian Thurman-Kelly (sore shoulder), losing to West Texas A&M 7-4 and to East Central 13-8.

Clabaugh said Sunday he did not know the severity of the injury to Green, while Thurman-Kelly was pulled mostly as a precaution.

“If you’d have told me that Brian Green would be injured, (infielder-catcher) Brett Scherer would get only one hit all weekend and Thurman-Kelly never pitches, I’d have told you we’d have lost all four games and wouldn’t have been close in any of them,” Clabaugh said. “We didn’t pitch very well (Saturday), but we played superb defense all weekend.”

While Crain walked none and struck out four against TSU, the Hounds jumped on the Texans for five runs in the bottom of the first and added four more in the fourth. Junior Mark Wallace drove in three runs with a double and single as the top five hitters in ENMU’s batting order each collected two hits.

Josh Kuchta and Jimmy Wells each had a pair of RBIs for the Hounds.

St. Mary’s, the NCAA Division II national champion in 2001, took a 6-0 lead after three innings in Sunday’s late game. But Eastern rebounded with two in the fourth and six in the fifth, the latter rally capped by a two-out, bases-loaded triple by Wells.

The Rattlers tied it in the bottom of the sixth, and scored the winner on a two-out single off reliever Trevor Davis in the seventh.

On Saturday, ENMU trailed WT 4-0 before getting run-scoring singles from Justin Gee and Bryan Moore in the fifth and Matt Hinojosa in the sixth. But the Buffs came back with three in the bottom of the sixth, two on a double by Trey Howell.

ECU then won a slugfest in which both teams had 14 hits. The Tigers broke a 4-4 tie with a six-run fourth keyed by a two-run homer from right fielder Nate Pool.