By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The Wildcat baseball team hasn’t had the prettiest of seasons thus far. At 15-16, ACU nearly has as many losses as it had in 2003 (20). But in the midst of a four-game win streak, the Cats are showing they still have some fight left in them.
ACU, which ranks second in the five-team Lone Star Conference South despite a mediocre 5-4 record, lit a small fire with a 7-1 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville Sunday and kept it burning with a three-game home sweep of Colorado School of Mines Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Wildcats survived a near-sweep by division-leading Kingsville with Sunday’s win, then easily dispatched Colorado Mines 7-2 Tuesday and finished the series with victories of 8-5 and 8-1 Wednesday.
“I hope we can continue to build on this win streak,” head coach Britt Bonneau said.
ACU is now hitting a team-best .275 on the season, led by left fielder Cody Cure, who is hitting .343 with 27 runs scored and 16 RBI.
The Cats’ pitching staff is led by two Bens: sophomore Ben Brockman (3-2, 3.33 ERA, 57 K) and freshman Ben Maynard (4-1, 3.45 ERA, 30 K).
“That’s huge having the two Bens pitching our nine-inning games for us,” Bonneau said. “It’s guys like that we’ve gotta have come tournament time.”
Bonneau said the recent wins have come as a breath of fresh air in a season that has demoralized his young ball club.
“I’ve been very frustrated,” he said. “I think we all have. [A losing season is] not only something I’ve never experienced, but most of these players haven’t either. When everything seems to be going wrong, it gets frustrating. The remaining 20-some games, we can either turn things around or continue to stay in the swamps.”
Junior infielder Ryan Barker, one of the team’s main leaders, said the woes of losing aren’t only felt by his coach.
“I’ve never been on a team before that’s started off like this,” he said. “We’re not living up to what ACU’s been doing the past few years, and it feels like we haven’t had much confidence in ourselves.”
But the Cats have the chance to build that up this weekend with a three-game series at third-place Eastern New Mexico (8-13, 3-5 LSC South). The Greyhounds come into the series losers of two of their last three games, splitting with Tarleton State last Friday and losing 15-12 to Lubbock Christian Tuesday. ACU and ENMU play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Friday and play a single game Saturday at noon.
“We’d obviously like to take the series, if not sweep them,” Bonneau said. “But that’s tough to do in Portales [N.M.]. They’re always a tough team; they don’t strike out very much and our pitchers will have to be at their best.”
Friday’s Game 1 starter could be either junior Coy Polk (3-3, 3.86 ERA) or senior Aaron Lawler (2-1, 5.16 ERA). Brockman is set to start Friday’s nightcap, while Maynard has the game ball for Saturday’s nine-inning game.
“It’s time to start winning at this point,” Bonneau said. “If we want to be in contention at the end of the year, we’ve got to win now.”