By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
After a 2-2 start to its 2004 campaign, the ACU baseball team begins its home schedule at Crutcher Scott Field this weekend with a pair of doubleheaders against South Central region opponent Incarnate Word Friday and Saturday.
The Crusaders, who finished 30-27 a year ago, are starting their season against the Wildcats, who took five of six games from UIW in 2003. Five of those six meetings between the two teams were decided by three runs or less.
“They’re a team that always plays us tough,” ACU coach Britt Bonneau said of the Heartland Conference team. “It seems like we’ve had a lot of 2-run ball games, and we were fortunate to be on top of a lot of those.
“It’s a regional game that’s obviously important to us,” he said. “It’s gonna be another testing weekend for us to come out and be ready to play.”
The Crusaders’ top returning hitter is senior first baseman John Elia, who batted a team-high .407 with 45 RBI in 2003. Their No. 1 returning pitcher is junior right-hander Hector Delgadillo, who went 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 68 strikeouts in ’03.
Bonneau said junior lefty Kerry Don Hall (1-0, 5.40 ERA) should start Friday’s opener and sophomore righty Zach Harris will start the nightcap. Sophomore right-hander Ben Brockman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets the nod for Saturday’s opener, while senior lefty Sam Hall (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will start the final game against UIW.
Bonneau said he’s excited about playing again at Crutcher Scott Field again, where the Cats played in front of a conference-high attendance average of 400 in 2003.
“We’re a team that just got back from the World Series, and we didn’t get there alone,” Bonneau said. “We look forward to playing in front of a rowdy bunch.”
In honor of the fans’ support, the athletic department is giving the first 100 fans at Saturday’s opener a Wildcat Baseball drinking cup.
Friday’s doubleheader begins at 2 p.m., while Saturday’s starts at noon.