By Dave Wagner
Now that they’ve reached .500 for the first time since March 5, when they were 8-8, the Eastern New Mexico University baseball team is shooting for a strong finish over its final nine games.
The Greyhounds (22-22) set a school record with 29 hits in a 25-10 rout of Oklahoma Panhandle State at Greyhound Field, blowing out the Aggies with two eight-run innings and a six-run frame.
Meantime, senior right-hander Trevor Davis (9-4) worked two perfect innings at the start and broke the school’s single-season mark for wins, previously shared with Geoff Erwin (1995 and 1996) and Greg Stimack (1999). And senior third baseman Brett Scherer led the hit parade by going 5-for-7, tying a school mark for hits in a game.
Granted it was against an Aggies squad that is just 7-34 and is struggling mightily in its own right.
“It’s a good win,” said junior catcher Tyler Brown, who was 4-for-5 with three RBIs. “It was what we needed to do as a team. We just use these Tuesday games to get tuned up for (Lone Star Conference South Division) competition.”
The Hounds return to South play this weekend, finishing their home schedule with Friday and Saturday twin bills against Tarleton State. Next week, they close the season with a Tuesday non-league game at New Mexico Highlands and a four-game weekend series at South-leading Abilene Christian.
“The next nine games will not be anything like this,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said. “We needed this one, but we’re fixing to see a team (in Tarleton) that plays like we do.
“But we’ll approach it just like we have been all year — we’ve got one game starting at 3 o’clock on Friday.”
Tuesday’s matchup was never in doubt. The Aggies swept Heartland Conference rival and NCAA Division II national champion St. Mary’s 5-4 and 3-2 at home on Friday to improve to 6-1 in one-run games, but they fell to 0-14 on the road with their loss to ENMU.
Despite reaching double figures with two runs in the ninth, the Aggies went down in order four different times.
Twelve ENMU players collected hits against OPSU, including six with at least three. Leadoff man Bryan Moore went 3-for-4, reaching base in six of seven at-bats and scoring five runs, and at .439 moved ahead of the pace set by Dallas McMann when he set the school’s single-season batting average mark (.433) two years ago.
Leading 2-0, the Hounds put together their first eight-run inning in the second. The Aggies scored five runs in the third off ENMU lefty David Swinconos, but fell out of contention when the Hounds scored six more runs in the fourth.
Then, after going down in order against Bobby Holland in the fifth and sixth, ENMU erupted for eight runs against him in the seventh.
Brown said the team’s goal is more than just a winning record.
“We’re trying to win out,” he said. “We’ve had a solid season, but we’ve got nine games left and we’d like to go 9-0.”
In addition to the offensive eruption, the Hounds played their fifth consecutive errorless games. They’ve gone 42 innings without a miscue since making two errors at Wayland Baptist early last week.
ENMU 25, Okla. Panhandle State 10
OPSU 005 002 102 —10 8 3
ENMU 281 600 80x —25 29 0
Dustin Paquette, David Pierson (2), Bobby Holland (4), JeCorey Matthews (8) and Clint Kyger, Wesley Wise (2), Kyger (4), Wise (8); Trevor Davis, David Swinconos (3), Kelly Crain (5), Micah Bernhardt (8), Mark Wallace (9) and Tyler Brown. W — Davis (9-4). L — Paquette (1-9). DP — Oklahoma Panhandle State 1, Eastern New Mexico 1. LOB — Oklahoma Panhandle State 6, Eastern New Mexico 9. 2B — Oklahoma Panhandle State: Matthews, Pierson. Eastern New Mexico: Bryan Moore, Wallace. 3B — Eastern New Mexico: Moore, Derrick Kennedy. T — 2:36. A — 55.