CMI correspndent: Joshua Lucero ENMU first baseman Joe Huwer wasn’t tall enough to pull down an errant pickoff throw from catcher Dillon Downs, allowing Tarleton State’s Evan Robinson to advance to second base during the third inning of Friday’s Lone Star Conference baseball opener at Greyhound Field. The Texans handed the Hounds a 16-4 loss.
PORTALES — Chris Terry believes his Eastern New Mexico University baseball team has enough offense to compete in the Lone Star Conference, and he thinks the Greyhounds’ pitching is good enough.
The biggest question is on defense, though, and the Hounds contributed four errors on Friday to help Tarleton State roll to a 16-4 win in the Lone Star Conference opener for both teams at Greyhound Field.
ENMU (9-8) has now committed 44 errors this season, leading to 31 unearned runs (out of 121), although only two of the runs were unearned on Friday.
“When we play defense, our pitching is generally going to (be able to) compete,” Terry said. “Offensively, we’ve got some weapons. It’s going to be tough for people to hold us down.”
Senior right-hander Andrew Martin (2-3) retired the first four Texans hitters, but struggled after that. He allowed nine hits and eight runs — seven earned — in 4 2/3 innings.
The bottom of Tarleton’s order did in the Hounds in this one. Second baseman Ryan Small, first baseman Garrett Hardey and center fielder Andrew Wolfe, batting in the six, seven and eight holes, combined to go 9-for-13 with eight runs scored and nine RBIs.
Small, hitting .200 coming in, belted a two-run homer in the second and an RBI double in the fifth, while Wolfe had four consecutive singles after popping out in his first at-bat, driving in four runs with his last three hits.
“We’ve kind of turned our lineup around hoping to get some consistency,” Texans coach Bryan Conger said. “Fortunately, today some of our balls found holes.
“I’m real proud of (the team) for staying patient and sticking to the plan.”
Tarleton (8-6) scored four runs in the fifth to open an 8-2 lead. The Hounds put together a two-run rally after two out in the bottom of the inning, putting starter Joseph Aquino (1-2) on the ropes, but he escaped by striking out catcher Dillon Downs with two on.
The Texans added four more each in the sixth and seventh off reliever Moto Asai, and the game ended after seven on the 10-run rule.
Aquino got an abbreviated complete game, allowing nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts while throwing 105 pitches.
“He’s been trying to find a secondary pitch he can throw for strikes (besides a fastball),” Conger said. “That’s the biggest key; it doesn’t matter how hard you can throw.”
Joe Huwer, Mitch Wolfe, Daniel Binz and Derek Crenshaw each had two hits and an RBI for the Hounds.
The teams have moved today’s scheduled doubleheader up three hours to an 11 a.m. start because of wind concerns later in the day, with both games scheduled for seven innings. They’ll finish the series with a 1 p.m. nine-inning game on Sunday.