By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University baseball team kept its postseason hopes alive, rallying in both games for a 16-12, 8-5 Lone Star Conference South Division sweep of Tarleton State on Saturday at Greyhound Field.
ENMU (19-24, 4-4 South) overcame a 5-0 deficit to win the second game, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth highlighted by a bases-loaded triple from senior catcher Gerald Juarez.
Hounds starter Evan Orsak allowed five runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings, but relievers Troy Vaughan (3-2) and Keith Balderaz held the Texans (21-24, 3-7) to one hit the rest of the game.
ENMU solidified its hold on fourth place in the South, with the top three teams in the division moving on to the LSC postseason tournament next month. The teams close the series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader today.
The Hounds opened the first game with a 6-0 lead through three innings, energized by a five-run first inning as Tyler Hayes, Derrick Kennedy and Mike McDuffie delivered run-scring hits.
The Hounds then committed three errors and handed the lead back as the Texans scored seven runs in the top half of the fourth — six of which were unearned.
ENMU oplened a 13-9 lead after seven innings, but Tarleton fought back again in the top of the eighth. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Doughty gave up a three-run shot to left field to Tarleton State’s Charles Desmariaso to bring the Texans to within a run.
“We were up by four,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said. “Those are tough things to do, but (Doughty) didn’t walk enough guys for them to tie the game. So even though he didn’t throw real well, I was happy that we came out of that inning with the lead.”
Sophomore Clayton Young provided breathing room in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-run triple, and then scored another run on a passed ball.
“If we don’t win this series, we’re out of (the playoff hunt),” Clabaugh said.
Tarleton State coach Trey Felan was upset about the Texans’ pitching.
“We scored 12 runs and we can’t win the ballgame,” Felan said. “We scored 12 runs and didn’t have the lead 90 percent of the ballgame.”
The teams entered Saturday’s play three games behind division-leading Abilene Christian (ENMU (19-24, 4-4) and Tarleton (21-24, 3-7) are both still alive in the Lone Star Conference playoff race. The Hounds and Texans went into the weekend three games behind division leader Abilene Christian (6-2) and two in back of Angelo State and Texas A&M-Kingsville, who were tied for second.