By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball coach Russell Stockton was relieved not to have been swept.
After losing the first three games of their Lone Star Conference series with Eastern New Mexico, the Javelinas managed to squeak out a 3-2 win in Sunday’s finale at Greyhound Field.
Stockton said the Javs (14-14, 10-10 South) were playing their 10th consecutive road game, and it showed.
“I knew it was going to be a tough weekend; I could sense it in my players,” Stockton said. “But hats off to (ENMU coach Phil) Clabaugh’s crew. They just played their butt off all weekend. “It was good to get a win.”
Left-hander Sam Strickland (4-2) needed 151 pitches, but threw a five-hitter and managed to strand the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings. Meantime, Kingsville made single tallies in the first, third and fifth stand up against right-hander Thomas Green (2-2).
Strickland breezed through the first four innings, retiring 11 in a row at one point. The Hounds (15-9, 9-7) began to work the counts and got his pitch total up.
In the ENMU eighth, Paden Vendrely walked and Mitch Wolfe singled. Sean Cruce moved pinch-runners Stephen Lopez-Barela and Daniel Martinez to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.
Jonathon Marbury hit a run-scoring single and Clayton Young’s sacrifice allowed Martinez to score and Marbury to reach third. But Tyler Hayes popped-up for the third out.
In the ninth, Derrick Kennedy singled and pinch-runner Matt Chavez took second on Freddy Carmona’s sacrifice. Strickland retired Seth Clabaugh on a flyout before striking out pinch-hitter Ethan Wagner to end it.
“(Strickland) threw really well,” Clabaugh said. “You can’t take anything away from him.
“They made the plays today, and we kicked it around a little bit (four errors).”
ENMU’s bullpen, which blew up after a quality start by Green in his last outing March 9 against Tarleton State, this time delivered four scoreless frames to keep the Hounds in contention.
“I thought our relief (pitchers) came in today and did a real good job,” Clabaugh said. “We pitched good all weekend. (Kingsville has) the best staff in the league, and I thought we matched them.”