PLAINVIEW, Texas — Matthew Burks has been Eastern New Mexico’s leadoff man all season, but the junior outfielder has suddenly turned into a slugger.
Burks homered for the fourth consecutive game on Tuesday — the most by an ENMU player since at least 1999 — as the Greyhounds cruised to an 8-3 non-conference win over Wayland Baptist.
Four ENMU pitchers threw shutout ball through eight innings before the Pioneers (28-16) got on the board in the ninth. Josh Alexander hit his team-leading eighth homer, a two-run shot, with one out, and Colton Palmer beat out a two-out, bases-loaded single to cut the lead to five before right-hander Jackson Gaskins got Aaron Vallance on a grounder to short to end it.
The Greyhounds (21-19) scored in the first when a return throw from WBU catcher Tyler Doolittle to pitcher Jose Urena (3-4) got away, allowing Dylan Nault to sprint home from third base.
ENMU added three runs in the third, two scoring on wild pitches by Urena. Sean Gahan then led off the fourth with a single and Burks chased Urena with a two-run shot, his eighth of the season, for a 6-0 lead.
The Hounds added their final runs on seventh-inning RBI singles from Rafael Romo and Mark Foley.
Freshman right-hander Keigan Basso (4-3) started and was credited with the win despite going only two innings. Nault and Chris Sanders both went 3-for-5 for ENMU, which outhit the Pioneers 12-7.
The win improved the Hounds to 33-27 all-time against WBU.
ENMU resumes Lone Star Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Texas A&M-Kingsville, beginning with a 5 p.m. nine-inning contest on Friday.