PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University baseball coach Phil Clabaugh got what he was hoping for in the Greyhounds’ four-game set against Colorado School of Mines — a series victory.
Senior right fielder Justin Gee hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh, then beat out a fielder’s choice with two out in the bottom of the ninth, stole second and scored on Mike McDuffie’s double to give ENMU a 7-6 victory on Sunday at Greyhound Field and three wins in their home-opening series.
McDuffie, 0-for-4 to that point, lined a 2-0 pitch from reliever Matt Ott (0-1) into the left-center field gap to send Gee home with the winning run. In the third, the ENMU second baseman had misplayed a pop fly near the right field line into an RBI single, with a second run scoring on the play on first baseman Casey Bigham’s throwing error.
“Duffie had had a tough day, but he got a pitch he could handle,” said Clabaugh, whose team improved to 7-1 for the season.
Gee’s two-out, two-run triple to left broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh, but Mines scratched out three runs to take the lead in the top of the eighth. Ryan French’s two-out RBI triple in the bottom of the inning retied the score.
With one on and one out in the ninth, Gee hit a grounder near the bag at third that nearly turned into a inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. But he was able to beat the relay, then stole second on the next pitch.
The Golden, Colo.-based Orediggers (2-5) had double-figure hits for the fourth consecutive game, but all 14 on Sunday were singles. Meantime, the Hounds’ nine hits included two doubles and two triples.
“We got 54 hits in a series, and we only made five errors, and I’ve never had a team do that,” Mines coach Mike Mulvaney said. “We’re young. We threw guys out there that, hopefully, they’ll get it. If they keep playing hard, the baseball gods will catch up to you.”
Freshman left-hander Seth Clabaugh, the coach’s son, gave up 10 hits over six innings and left with a 3-3 tie. Jeff Roemer worked a 1-2-3 seventh, Charlie Ward gave up the three runs in the eighth — only one earned — and closer Keith Balderaz (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two.
“Our starting pitching was good today,” the elder Clabaugh allowed. “Charlie was better than (his stats) looked; (hitters put) his ball on the ground.”
Mulvaney was impressed with Balderaz, who saved the Hounds’ first two wins in the series.
“Balderaz is a competitor, and that’s what you want out there,” he said. “He’s got that hunger in his eyes, and he’s going to go after guys.
“I thought Seth did a good job. He wanted the ball, and he threw it better (than in his first start at Sul Ross State).”
Phil Clabaugh was relieved to win a series against a team which has been tough on the Hounds over the years.
“That’s a class act over there,” he said. “Mike Mulvaney’s a class act, and it’s always a pleasure to play against people like that.”