Redmen hold on for split with Hounds

CNJ staff

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Junior second baseman Mike McDuffie’s second home run of the game, a two-run shot in the sixth, put Eastern New Mexico University ahead for good and the Greyhounds went on to beat Northeastern State 12-9 on Friday in the first game of a Lone Star Conference baseball crossover doubleheader.

Northeastern came back for just its second win of the season in the nightcap, building an 8-1 lead and holding on against a five-run ENMU seventh for an 8-7 victory. The teams complete their series with another twin bill at 11 a.m. (MST) today.

Trailing 9-8 in the first game, ENMU’s Justin Gee walked to lead off the sixth and rode home on McDuffie’s team-leading sixth homer of the season. The Hounds added insurance in the seventh on two walks and a two-run double by Derrick Kennedy.

Sophomore right-hander Charlie Ward (3-0) pitched two shutout innings in relief of starter Kelly Crain, who was rocked for nine hits in four innings. Sophomore Keith Balderaz pitched the seventh for his fifth save.

The Hounds (11-3) fell behind 4-0 before Gee hit a two-run homer in the third and McDuffie followed with a solo shot in the third. The Redmen (2-7) responded with four runs on just two hits in the bottom of the inning, and led 9-5 before ENMU pulled close with a three-run fifth.

In the second game, Gee hit a first-inning sacrifice fly, but Northeastern scored in each of the first four innings to seemingly put the game away.

Micah Bernhardt’s RBI single made it 8-2 in the fifth before the late rally by the Hounds, who were held to three hits over six innings by freshman left-hander Kevin Humphrey (1-1).

Bernhardt’s one-out, bases-loaded single made it 8-4, Kennedy drove in another run with a fielder’s choice grounder and Gee’s two-out, two-run double chased Humphrey and cut the margin to a run. But with reliever James Rappe on the mound, Gee was thrown out trying to steal third to end it.

Gee finished the day 4-for-7 with five RBIs. Northeastern, which did not have a home run in its first seven games, got one from catcher Nash Garcia in the opener and another from second baseman Brian Venable in the nightcap.