Angelo salvages split against Hounds

Eastern New Mexico University second baseman Mike McDuffie jumps over Brad Hough while turning a fifth-inning double play in the opener of Friday’s Lone Star Conference South doubleheader against Angelo State. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Hitless in his first six at-bats of the doubleheader, Angelo State’s Nathan Hamm helped the Rams bail out a Lone Star Conference South Division baseball split against Eastern New Mexico University on Friday.

Hamm had run-scoring hits in each of his last three trips to the plate, including a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the eighth to lift Angelo to a 9-7 win at Greyhound Field.

ENMU (19-17), which forced extra innings in the seven-inning nightcap with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, blew out the Rams 15-1 in the first game behind seven solid innings from senior Kelly Crain (4-4) and a 16-hit attack.

The teams complete their division-opening series with a 4 p.m. twin bill today.

Angelo State (22-11) carried a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh in game 2, but an error by third baseman Shan Sullivan opened the door for ENMU.

Derrick Kennedy’s single put runners at the corners, and a passed ball made it 7-5.

A walk to Justin Gee loaded the bases, and with one out Angelo’s Tommy Rafferty (4-1) hit Kelton Hayes and Brian Green with pitches to force in a run. Rafferty then threw a wild pitch, allowing Gee to score the tying run.

On the play, catcher Bucky Strickland’s throw got past Rafferty at the plate, but Hamm backed up the play and threw back to Rafferty to nip pinch-runner Stephen Lopez-Barela, trying to score the winning run from second.

In the eighth, Brad Hough singled and John Beal walked against ENMU’s Casey Bigham (0-1). Evan Orsak relieved and got Ronnie Gaines on a fly to right, sending Hough to third.

Beal then broke off first and was caught in a rundown for the second out, with Hough holding third. But Hamm’s single to center plated the run, and pinch-hitter Joey Kolar added an RBI double.

In the opener, the Hounds dominated the Rams after breaking a scoreless tie with a three-run third against Chace Vacek (4-3).

Crain struggled with his control, walking seven and striking out just one. But the Hounds turned two double plays, catcher Brian Green threw out two runners trying to steal and Crain picked another runner off first base.

First baseman Jeff Roemer and shortstop Matt Hinojosa each had three hits for ENMU, while four other Hounds collected two hits apiece.