By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Head baseball coach Britt Bonneau had seen enough.
After losing as many games as last season with nearly a month to go in this season, Bonneau decided it was time for a change. Practice was going to be tougher, longer and harder.
Senior infielder Beau Bimson had another description for the newly structured practices: perfect.
“The day before the St. Mary’s series [Monday], Coach ran us to death,” Bimson said. “Coach said ‘you might hate me by the end of the year, but we’re going to start playing great baseball.'”
The practice changes seemed to work Tuesday as the Wildcats took both games of a two-game doubleheader from nationally ranked St. Mary’s at Crutcher Scott Field.
ACU, now 30-14 overall, stole a 2-1 victory over the Rattlers in the first game Tuesday after sophomore infielder Ryan Barker singled home senior outfielder Marcelino Escalante for the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Wildcats led the second game 7-4 before senior pre-season all-America centerfielder Creighton Bryan started a five-run scoring binge in the bottom of the sixth, singling in Bimson. Seniors Chris Churchill and Luis Munoz added RBI singles and junior infielder Arnie Gomez added a RBI double to push the Wildcat to an eight-run victory.
Junior right-hander Aaron Lawler said the Wildcats are ready this weekend’s three-game home series against conference-foe Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“We’re as confident as we’ve been all season,” said Lawler of the Javelinas, which are ranked second in the Lone Star Conference South division. “Everytime we play conference we know the teams we play come out and play us at a high level. We expect nothing less from A&M-Kingsville.”
This weekend’s series is also the pivotal point of ACU’s season. As long as the Wildcats win at least two of three games against both Texas A&M-Kingsville and conference cellar-dweller Eastern New Mexico, the Wildcats will nudge out the Javelinas for the final post-season conference tournament berth. Only the top two teams in each LSC division makes the post-season tournament.
With senior left-hander Brandon Shaw, who is this week’s LSC South division pitcher-of-the-week after tossing a one-hit shutout against Dallas Baptist, pitching at least one game this weekend, ACU’s chances of making the post-season tournament will fall into the preverbal laps of the rest of the Wildcat pitching staff, which might not be a bad thing after the pitching performances turned in earlier this week.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Ben Brockman pitched six innings in Tuesday’s first game against St. Mary’s, allowing only five hits and an earned run. Senior left-hander Robert Newland and Lawler pitched an inning apiece to close out the narrow victory.
Junior left-hander Sam Hall pitched five innings of four-hit ball in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against St. Mary’s, as well as striking out the side to close out the game.
Bimson said he is a little excited with all the pressure brewing from this weekend’s three-game series with Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“Everything we’ve worked for is going to come down to this weekend,” Bimson said. “Either we’ll make the playoffs or we won’t.”