By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
Joel Wells watched disgustedly as the Texas A&M-Kingsville players mobbed each other at home plate, hooting and hollering and slapping each other’s helmets.
Kingsville’s Mike Aguirre had just ripped a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to score teammate Brandon Wittner and secure the Javelinas a 2-1 victory over ACU Saturday, giving them additional reason to celebrate: they took two of three games from the Wildcats and expanded their lead in the Lone Star Conference South standings to 2 1/2 games.
“You’d have thought they just won the seventh game of the World Series,” said Wells, ACU’s sophomore outfielder. “I was disappointed anyway, but that made it worse.”
Senior Matt Callahan had a different vantage point from his second base position, but the same sentiments.
“That really hits you in a good spot when you see something like that,” he said. “It was crushing.”
With the regular season winding down, the Javelinas (25-19 overall, 15-6 LSC South) are in a good position to play host for the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament April 29-May 1. TAMUK has just three divisional games remaining-at Eastern New Mexico April 23-24-and has to win just two of those to clinch the top spot.
For ACU (25-19, 11-7) to have a chance at finishing first and playing tournament host, it must win all six of its remaining conference games and rely on Kingsville losing two to ENMU.
ACU head coach Britt Bonneau said he was more disappointed in the outcome of the series than in his players’ performance.
“I’m not upset at our players at all,” he said. “I’m disappointed that we lost. There were times when we didn’t execute and [Kingsville] did. They out-executed us.”
Senior Aaron Lawler (4-1) pitched ACU to a 8-5 win in Friday’s first game, as junior second baseman C.J. Goularte led the Wildcats’ sticks with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Kingsville’s Garrett Murdy (10-1) pitched a complete game with nine strikeouts to down ACU, despite solid pitching from sophomore Ben Brockman (6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 7 K).
In the third game, freshman Ben Maynard lost another pitching duel to TAMUK’s Juan Obregon, who won the game in relief of starter Jeff Peters. Maynard went eight innings and scattered eight hits to go with six strikeouts. Junior Coy Polk (5-5) took the loss in relief.
Despite the heartbreak, Callahan had a weekend to smile about, going 6-for-9 at the plate with four runs scored.
Callahan said the team will move on and forget about the disappointing weekend.
“We’re not hanging our heads,” he said. “We know we’re still in the conference tournament.”
If Kingsville clinches the top spot, ACU will most likely have another shot at facing the Javelinas on their home field, this time in the postseason.
“We’ll probably see them again down there,” said Wells. “We’ll remember them celebrating on that field come conference tournament.”