By Mickey Winfield: Freedom New Mexico
PORTALES — At long last, the Eastern New Mexico University baseball team is assured of a Lone Star Conference series win.
The Greyhounds, who split their first three LSC series, swept Texas A&M-Kingsville 9-5 and 6-1 on Saturday at Greyhound Field and, with Friday’s 7-4 win over the Javelinas, gives them the first three games of the four-game set. The teams finish the series with a nine-inning game at 1 p.m. today.
Saturday’s wins mark the first time in their history the Hounds (15-8, 9-6 LSC) have won more than two in a row against the Javelinas (13-14, 9-10). They’ve won four straight against Kingsville, dating to last year’s final meeting.
“These guys are good,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said.
ENMU continued to get solid pitching, riding strong starting pitching from junior right-handers Evan Orsak in the first game and Ismael Solis in the nightcap.
“This is the best pitching staff in the league — hands down by far,” Clabaugh said. “We’ve pitched OK so far.
“Our catchers are doing a very good job of calling the game. We try to put together a game plan and they’re doing a good job of sticking with it.”
Clabaugh’s crew came up clutch in the nightcap. With the bases loaded and the game scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore catcher Paden Vendrely drilled a two-strike, three-run double to deep left-center field.
“I had two strikes on me, so I was just trying to get it somewhere in the outfield so we could score one run,” Vendrely said.
That quickly swelled to 6-0 after a Kevin Thompson RBI double and a trio of Javelinas errors.
“He got hold of it and stuck it in the gap,” Clabaugh said of Vendrely’s drive. “I didn’t know if we were going to get (son Seth) Clabaugh around (to score) or not.”
Solis (3-1) scattered five hits in a seven-inning complete game. He came within one strike of a shutout before giving up an unearned run.
“I felt good out there,” Solis said. “I was just trying to hit my spots.”
Phil Clabaugh said the play of the game actually came in the fifth when junior Clayton Young was ruled to have fouled a pitch that hit him in the face.
“That did not hit the bat,” Phil Clabaugh said. “He battled for a walk and if anything might have sparked that inning, I know it happened in the fifth (inning), but our guys started feeding off of that. We had some really tough at-bats.”
In the first game, the Hounds opened a 4-0 lead in the second, sparked by Young’s RBI single. Senior Jonathon Marbury and sophomore Jereme Johnson also each collected an RBI.
The Hounds added another run in the third and three in the fourth inning to go up 8-0.
Orsak (3-2) allowed four runs on five hits in six innings, while Tyler Doughty earned a three-inning save.