Struggling Hounds face crucial series

Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — While West Texas A&M and Eastern New Mexico University have both endured 10-game losing streaks this season, and have nearly identical records, they are teams headed in opposite directions.

The struggling Greyhounds host the surging Buffaloes in Lone Star Conference South Division doubleheaders set for 4 p.m. today.

WT (18-18, 3-1 South) is coming off a division-opening series win at home over nationally-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville, while the Hounds (19-20, 1-3) have dropped 16 of 19 since a 16-4 start.

“There’s a multitude of things that can go wrong with any baseball team,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said. “And with this team, most of them have.”

The only wins in their slide were relatively lopsided — 18-10 at Central Oklahoma, 21-14 at Colorado Christian and 15-1 last week against South foe Angelo State. The Hounds, though, dropped the final three games of the Angelo series, and fell under .500 for the first time this year when they lost at home to New Mexico Highlands 8-3 on Tuesday.

Having already lost one South series at home, Clabaugh said it’s imperative the Hounds win this series if they have any hope of being one of the division’s three representatives in the LSC postseason tournament.

“If we lose this series, something really crazy is going to have to happen for us to climb back into the race,” he said. “This is a critical weekend. They’re hot and full of confidence, and we’re cold and low on confidence.”

Senior right-hander Kelly Crain (4-4, 5.01 earned run average) will start today’s opener against the Buffs with freshman left-hander Seth Clabaugh (0-4, 10.85) in the nightcap. Saturday starters are slated to be junior right-hander Evan Courteau (5-4, 8.49) and senior left-hander David Swinconos (0-3, 13.37).

Since its 10-game losing streak, WT has won 12 of its last 16. Clabaugh said the Buffs, who haven’t been at or above .500 this late in a season since 2002, are similar to ENMU — they rely on their offense to win.

“This series is traditionally a high-scoring series,” he said. “If you’re not ready to score runs when you play WT, you’re going to get beat.

“I still think this team (ENMU) can hit and can win, but we’re at a point where it doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what the kids think.”