ALPINE, Texas — Hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time as a collegian, Eastern New Mexico University senior Justin Gee made a spectacular debut Friday afternoon.
The Greyhounds loaded the bases on a single and two walks, and Gee followed with a grand slam home run, highlighting a seven-run first as the Greyhounds beat Sul Ross State 8-6 in the first game of a season-opening baseball doubleheader.
ENMU also won the second game 11-6. The teams complete the series with another twin bill today.
Gee, a Clovis High grad and ENMU’s regular right fielder, also worked two innings in relief in the nightcap. The Hounds won that one with a five-run ninth, breaking a 6-6 tie.
Eastern nearly let the seven-inning opener get away. After Gee’s slam, the Hounds got a solo homer from Mike McDuffie, a triple from Tyler Brown and a two-run homer to center from Kelton Hayes for a seemingly comfortable margin, chasing Lobos right-hander Jerrod Solis.
ENMU senior right-hander Kelly Crain carried an 8-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Sul Ross scored four unearned runs after a leadoff error to pull close. The key hit of that inning was a two-run double by catcher Will Montano.
Sophomore Keith Baldarez worked a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the save.
ENMU finished with 12 hits. Shortstop Matt Hinojosa went 3-for-4 while McDuffie and Hayes each had a pair of hits.
In the second game, Seth Clabaugh, Ryan French and Derrick Kennedy hit solo homers, but the Hounds needed a big ninth featuring an RBI double by McDuffie, a two-run double by Clabaugh, a run-scoring double by Jeff Roemer and an RBI single by Brown to pull out the win.
ENMU outhit the Lobos 13-10 in that contest, getting two hits each from McDuffie, Clabaugh, Brown and Hayes. Gee worked the sixth and seventh innings, giving up Sammy Robles’ leadoff homer in the seventh that put the Lobos ahead 6-5, before Charlie Ward allowed one hit over the final two innings for the win.
The Hounds tied the game in the top of the eighth on a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Hayes.