The ACU baseball team bounced back from an Incarnate Word sweep with two conference victories out of three games against New Orleans last weekend, giving the Wildcats its first Southland series win since 2016.
In game one Friday night, ACU freshman outfielder Colton Eager had a breakout game in which he went 4-4. Both starting pitchers put in good starts through five, as ACU starter junior Garrett Hutson and UNO starter Bryan Warzek had given up two earned runs, but Hutson struggled in the sixth, getting just one out and giving up three more runs before being taken out for reliever Brennan Lewis, who threw a 1 2/3 innings on scoreless relief. Warzek was taken out after the sixth and didn’t allow another run, but the Wildcats jumped on reliever Ryan Barr, tacking on three runs in the seventh to tie the game up.
In the ninth UNO plated one more run to take a 6-5 lead, but Eager picked up the walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, scoring two as he sliced the ball down the right-field line. Junior pitcher Ryan Knowles came in to pitch in the ninth and picked up the win for ACU, and Privateer pitcher Mathew Oset took the loss as he pitched a scoreless eighth but put on the two winning runs in the ninth before being taken out.
The second game was another close game as ACU picked up three runs in the fifth in a 6-5 victory on Saturday. The Wildcats offense was working early as they plated a run in the second off a single from freshman infielder Seth Watts. The Privateers then scored two in the fourth before the breakout fifth inning, and even though UNO scored two more runs in the final three innings, it wasn’t enough as senior outfielder/pitcher Derek Scott picked up his first save of the conference season.
Scott came in to relieve junior pitcher Jonathan Nicholson, who began the season as a starting pitcher, but has now become part of a deadly relief combo who Head Coach Britt Bonneau said finally answers the question of what is going to happen with the back-end of the bullpen.
“As a lot of people have seen, our Friday night starters are now the back end of our game,” Bonneau said. “We have a Derek Scott back there, a left-hander, and Jonathan Nicholson back there. Two really good arms who can really help guys like Ryan Knowles out, and when you have those three guys back there it really kind of relaxes our defense.”
ACU was hoping to pick up its first conference win since May of 2015 in the third game Sunday, but fell short in a 14-10 loss. UNO came in early with an 8-0 lead as they scored four runs in both the first and second innings. Even though ACU scored three runs in the second and fifth, and four runs in the last three innings, the early deficit was just too much to overcome. Four different players had three hits, with Scott and Donahue hitting home-runs. Junior pitcher Colton Brasher started and picked up the loss for ACU, giving up eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of work.
The Wildcats now move to 13-5 on the season, with a 2-4 record in conference. They head to the University of Texas at Arlington to face the Mavericks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.