By Dave Wagner
Making just his second pitching appearance and first start for Eastern New Mexico University, junior Micah Bernhardt got off to an inauspicious start — he walked the first two hitters and plunked the next two.
New Mexico Highlands took advantage for a five-run first, but Bernhardt pitched creditably over the next four innings and ENMU’s bats came alive with 16 hits in a 13-9 victory over the Cowboys Tuesday night at Greyhound Field.
Catcher Tyler Brown went 4-for-5 while second baseman Bryan Moore, first baseman Mark Wallace and left fielder Gilbert Alvarado had three hits each for the Hounds (16-18). Meantime, Justin Gee’s two-run, opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth started the Greyhounds’ comeback.
Junior Kelly Crain (5-6), the third of four ENMU pitchers, picked up the win when the Hounds scored twice in the bottom of the seventh for a 10-9 lead. Brett Scherer’s sacrifice fly tied the score, and Wallace delivered a two-out single to center to plate Josh Kuchta with the go-ahead run.
Moore and Kuchta each hit run-scoring singles in the bottom of the eighth to help salt the game away.
First baseman Brendon Hampton drove in three runs with a pair of singles for the Cowboys (20-10), who took a No. 20 national ranking in NCAA Division II into a four-game Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference series at Fort Hays State over the weekend. They lost the last three in the series to the Tigers.
Matt Sotebeer, making his first start for the Cowboys, carried a 5-1 lead into the fourth and retired the first two hitters before Brown singled and Gee followed with his second homer of the season, a shot to right-center which got a boost from a strong breeze blowing that way. Alvarado and Moore then hit back-to-back doubles to cut the margin to 5-4.
Bernhardt nearly pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth, but Hampton dropped a soft two-out single into right-center to score Jordan Prado and Cameron Schick. Brown singled home a run in a two-run fifth, then tied the score 8-8 with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth.
ENMU 13, NM Highlands 9
New Mexico Highlands 500 021 100 — 9 9 5
ENMU 100 322 23x —13 16 0
Matt Sotebeer, Dan Herlehy (5), Ricardo Contraras (6), Kevin Christens0n (7), Andrew Peterson (8) and Lucas Hastings; Micah Bernhardt, Kelly Crain (6), David Swinconos (8), Kellen Smith (9) and Tyler Brown. W — Crain (5-6). L — Christenson (1-1). DP — New Mexico Highlands 2, Eastern New Mexico 1. LOB — New Mexico Highlands 10, Eastern New Mexico 12. 2B — New Mexico Highlands: Rick Janeway, Marcos Castillo, Jordan Prado. Eastern New Mexico: Bryan Moore 2, Mark Wallace, Gilbert Alvarado, Derrick Kennedy, Brown. 3B — New Mexico Highlands: Cameron Schick, Eric Honea. HR — Eastern New Mexico: Justin Gee (2). T — 3:10. A — 50.