By Daniel Johnson, Sports Writer
The Wildcats lost their first four game series of the 2006 season to Cameron University last weekend in what became an uncharacteristic story of missed opportunities.
In the last series of the preseason, the Wildcats fell three times to the Cameron Aggies, dropping three spots to No. 6 in the Collegiate Baseball Magazine Poll and falling to 25-7 on the season. The Wildcats will carry their winning record and top-10 ranking to Stephenville this weekend to take on Tarleton State in their first LSC South Conference series.
The Cameron Aggies protected their home field efficiently against the then-No. 3-ranked Wildcats with an initial 4-0 win over a surprised ACU squad. The Wildcat loss came from a no hitter pitched by Cameron right hander Kacy Groves. Groves’ no hitter was the first thrown by a Cameron University player since they entered NCAA Division II play, and was the first thrown against the Wildcats since April 13, 2004. The Wildcats only chance to score came in the first inning when shortstop Ruben Rivera was left on third base after a ground out. Wildcat pitcher Brian Kennedy picked up his first loss of the season after pitching a complete six innings.
“[Groves] only had three strikeouts that game,” said Britt Bonneau, head coach of the baseball team. “We hit the ball right at them and unfortunately they made all the plays to keep us off the scoreboard.”
The Wildcats rediscovered their explosive offense in the second game of the series, crushing the Aggies 17-5. ACU jumped from no hits to 18 in the 17-run rally against Cameron. The Wildcats found the grass behind the fence three times throughout the game, including freshman Trey Watten’s first collegiate home run and a grand slam by Chris Walsh in the final inning. Wildcat pitchers Stephen Miller, Jason Kennedy and Brandon Moore combined for eight strike outs, and Kennedy recorded the win.
After splitting the first doubleheader, Cameron went on to sweep the Wildcats on day two, handing them their first series loss since 2004.
Despite an original 2-1 Wildcat lead in the first three innings of game three, Cameron tied and eventually took a three-run lead by the fifth. Trailing 5-2 the Wildcats’ only answer came off a solo home run from catcher Alec Sowards in the top of the sixth. The Wildcats failed to respond the final inning, going three up and three down to end the game with a final score of 5-3. Senior right hander Ben Maynard picked up his second loss of the season, dropping his record to 3-2.
In the final game of the series the Wildcats jumped on top early once more with a 2-0 lead off of runs in the second and third innings. Cameron answered back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third, pulling ahead 3-2. Although sophomore pitcher Chris Wiman pitched a solid five innings, the Wildcat bats came up short once again as the Cameron Aggies held on to their lead. Despite striking out six Cameron batters, Wiman picked up his first loss of the season, reducing his record to 5-1.
“We really beat ourselves this weekend,” Bonneau said. “We couldn’t counter when we put ourselves in a scoring position, and we didn’t have a good game plan in the box to hit. This weekend was a real eye opener and now we can move forward with the lessons we’ve learned from it.”