Hounds suffer first loss in split

David Swinconos tags out Colorado School of Mines third baseman Joel D’Cristina on a rundown between third base and home plate in the fourth inning of the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Greyhound Field. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — With a six-game winning streak hanging in the balance, the Greyhounds ended up taking measures to give them better odds of avoiding a two-game losing streak.

Matt Thome allowed two runs on two hits and struck out nine in a complete-game effort, and three-run efforts in the third and fourth innings gave visiting Colorado School of Mines an 11-2 win in the nightcap of Saturday’s non-conference doubleheader at Greyhound Field.

The Orediggers (2-5) gave the host Greyhounds their first loss of the season and have a chance at a series split in today’s 1 p.m. game. The Greyhounds won Saturday’s opener 5-3 and Friday’s series opener 12-9.

“I’ve told my guys every year,” Orediggers coach Mike Mulaney said, “that if you can split on the road and take three of four at home, you’re going to be all right.”

The Orediggers were also in the hunt for the win in the series opener, but three Greyhound relievers combined for three scoreless innings after Evan Courtreau left after six, spoiling a complete-game effort by CSM’s Brady Romberg.

“Both kids pitched well,” Greyhound coach Phil Clabaugh said. “You see that good of pitching this early in the year, you should be happy you get a split, and I am happy we got a split.”

Eastern (6-1) took an early lead in the opening game when left fielder Tim Crafton crushed a Thome offering over the right field fence.

However, the Hounds couldn’t produce much more offense after that. By the time Crafton led off the fourth with a triple and scored on a Tyler Brown sacrifice fly, the Orediggers already had six on the board against eventual loser David Swinconos (0-1).

Mulaney said that Thome (1-1) has come around, especially considering he didn’t come to the school as a pitcher.

“He came up as a shortstop, then he moved to third,” Mulaney said of Thome. “We thought he might be able to pitch. He’s making progress.”

The Orediggers got ample insurance off of reliever Evan Orsak with five runs in the final two innings.

Three players had two-RBI games for the Orediggers, led by third baseman Joel D’Cristina’s 2-for-3 effort.

Clabaugh admitted that Orsak had to take one for the team and pitch with no bullpen to bail him out, since extra arms were being saved for the Sunday finale.

“Once the game got to a certain point, Orsak had to stay in and get them out,” Clabaugh said. “The object is to win the series.”

Freshman Seth Clabaugh, a 2004 Portales High graduate, is the scheduled starter in today’s game.

ENMU 5, CSM 3 — In the opener, the Greyhounds twice rallied back from one-run deficits, and took the lead for good with RBI singles from Mike McDuffie and Derrick Murphy in the fifth inning.

Courteau (2-0) scattered seven hits in his six innings of work, and the Hounds got one scoreless inning from Jeff Roemer and Charlie Ward. Keith Balderaz pitched the ninth for his third save of the season.

Romberg (0-2) allowed five runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts in the loss.