By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Phil Clabaugh acknowledged there were good things about Sunday’s Lone Star Conference South Division baseball doubleheader, like solid starting pitching from Evan Courteau and Justin Sergeant.
Still, his Eastern New Mexico University baseball team didn’t get what it needed — wins — if the Greyhounds hope to extend season beyond April.
Tarleton State earned a series split, sweeping Sunday’s twin bill at Greyhound Field 4-3 and 4-0 at Greyhound Field to move into fourth place in the South by percentage points over ENMU.
The Texans (23-24, 5-7) are one game behind third-place Texas A&M-Kingsville (23-23, 6-6) with home series remaining against last-place West Texas A&M and division co-leader Angelo State.
ENMU (19-26, 4-6) has the other co-leader, Abilene Christian, on the road this weekend before hosting Kingsville in its final series.
“We needed to win one today,” Clabaugh said. “We had our chances, but offensively we couldn’t get the job done.”
Tarleton’s Todd Westerfield (7-3) survived a two-run homer by ENMU’s Mike McDuffie in the bottom of the ninth.
Courteau (4-7), who has struggled much of the season, had the Hounds in a 1-1 tie until the eighth when the Texans broke through for three runs on three hits and two ENMU errors.
“Courteau pitched the best game he’s thrown since Colorado (School of) Mines (a 3-2 win in early February),” Clabaugh said. “We just had some really poor at-bats today, but then you have to tip your hat to their pitchers.”
Westerfield needed 129 pitches, but limited the Hounds to seven hits and two earned runs with one strikeout. Junior right-hander Josh Kelley (4-3) tossed his second shutout of the season in the seven-inning nightcap, working his way out of a couple of jams along the way.
The Texans reached Sergeant (2-2) for two runs in the first and picked up a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
Tarleton coach Trey Felan said his pitchers benefited from a brisk wind blowing in.
“All four (starting) pitchers pitched really well,” Felan said. “Those of the kind of games you don’t want to see anybody lose.
“It was two big games for us. I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Clabaugh and consider him a friend. I know you’d better get ready to play when you come to Portales.”
Clayton Young had two hits in the opener and Jonathon Marbury had two in the nightcap for ENMU.
Troy Vaughan singled in the opener to extend his hitting streak to a team-best 20 games, but went 0-for-3 against Kelley in the nightcap.