By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
The timing couldn’t have been better for the Wildcat baseball team in Tuesday’s home doubleheader against Dallas Baptist.
The series sweep of the Patriots ended a two-game losing streak for the Wildcats, now ranked 19th in the nation, and pushed their overall record to 20-8 heading into a three-game series against West Texas A&M at Crutcher Scott Field starting Friday. It will feature a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m., while Saturday’s first pitch will be at noon.
The effort also earned the Wildcats bragging rights within the region-ACU has now won 18 of 24 games against regional foes.
Senior outfielder/designated hitter Marcelino Escalante continued to swing a hot bat for the Wildcats. Escalante, a second-team all-Lone Star Conference pick last season, struggled early this season and received a wake-up call when head coach Britt Bonneau benched him. Escalante hit .555 with three RBI, five doubles and a game-winning home run against California (Pa.) last week, enough to earn himself LSC South Division hitter-of-the-week honors.
Senior third baseman Brad Massey said Escalante’s presence is key to the team’s run at a Division II national championship.
“We need ‘Lino in the lineup to be successful,” Massey said. “He had a great spring break. He’s one of those guys who gets hot and drives in a lot of runs for us. It’s important for him to hit well for us.”
Massey added that the pitching staff has been solid throughout the season, despite having to adjust to a different system under new pitching coach Lee Fletcher, who is in his first season at ACU after serving as an assistant coach at University of Montevallo.
Senior second baseman Beau Bimson said facing quality teams such as Kennesaw State (Ga.), Tampa (Fla.) and California (Pa.) allowed the players to calm any future qualms of playing other nationally ranked teams.
“Because they are so highly ranked lots of guys were expecting them to be perfect teams,” Bimson said. “If we had hit well we would have beaten them. Now we are confident we are going to beat them if we play them again.”
Massey said he agreed.
“We haven’t played as well as we would have liked to [recently], but it was good for us because we might play a lot of these teams down the road in regionals,” Massey said. “Overall, it was a good experience, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Starting 4 p.m. Friday against the Buffaloes.