By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
Rarely has a game turned so quickly from a contest into a blowout.
West Texas A&M broke open a 3-3 contest with nine runs in the top of the fifth inning, then added five more in the sixth for a 17-3 Lone Star Conference baseball victory over Eastern New Mexico University on Friday at Greyhound Field in Portales.
After Eric Dorton walked and Trey Horn lined to center to start the fifth against ENMU junior right-hander Ryan Pruitt (0-2), the Buffaloes (6-2, 3-1 LSC) put together four straight hits and had nine consecutive batters reach to turn it into a runaway.
The Buffs sent 13 men to the plate in the fifth and 11 more in the sixth as the ENMU bullpen couldn’t stop the bleeding. WT had seven doubles and outhit the Hounds 19-6.
“We really played horrible baseball the first couple of innings,” WT coach Matt Vanderberg said. “We finally got into their bullpen, and that’s when everything changed.”
ENMU (1-4, 0-1) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, getting run-scoring singles from Daniel Patching and Mitch Wolfe against WT’s Justin Kuks (2-0). The Greyhounds made Kuks use about 30 pitches in the frame, but couldn’t take full advantage of his two walks and two errant pickoff throws.
The Buffs took a 3-2 lead in the second. ENMU tied it in the third on Brandon Devries’ RBI groundout, but the Hounds had only two hits after the first off Kuks, who worked six innings.
“Kuks is like that; he’s either really good or all over the place,” Vanderberg said. “He’s got really good stuff. He just got a little better as the game went.”
The game was called after seven innings because of the 10-run rule. The teams complete their series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader today.
ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh was more concerned about his team’s lack of punch than the pitching woes. The Hounds have scored 15 runs this season, and eight of those came in their only win.
“We can’t beat anybody with six hits,” Clabaugh said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we have to hit better.”
Everyone in the WT lineup hit safely except Dorton — and he went 0-for-2 with four walks in the leadoff position.
“Pruitt did a good job of keeping us off-balance,” Vanderberg said. “Finally, we made some adjustments. Our kids did a good job.”
Catcher Garrett Campfield went 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Left fielder Brad Elders, who came in hitting .071 (1-for-14), joined shortstop Jordan Easom and first baseman Jess Cooper with three-hit outings for the Buffs.