By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
After a solid outing by pitcher Ben Maynard and a slew of big run innings helped the Wildcats’ downed nationally ranked Incarnate Word 10-1 on Tuesday. The ACU baseball team is looking to ride its recent momentum into this weekend.
“We need to play like we did on Tuesday,” said head coach Britt Bonneau. ACU, which is 6-2 and ranked at No. 18 in the nation, will take on regional and undefeated conference rival East Central in a four-game Lone Star Conference crossover series at Crutcher Scott Field on Friday and Saturday. “We just got to play well at home,” Bonneau said.
And the key to doing just that will be scoring runs when the Wildcats need them the most.
“We need to get the big hit when we need it,” said shortstop Willy Uechi.
So far ACU has gotten the hits it needed at home. ACU is undefeated after sweeping Henderson State in a three-game series on Feb. 3-4 and beating formally ranked St. Mary’s 8-0 on Feb. 6.
Bonneau said victory would come for his team scores when they need it the most.
“The bottom line is we have to get runs across the plate,” Bonneau said.
ACU has outscored its opponents 61-27, and a majority of those runs have come in the first four innings. But Uechi said scoring early doesn’t guarantee a win.
“Once we get the lead, we need to keep going at them and not be satisfied,” Uechi said.
One of the most consistent bats and base runners so far for ACU is second baseman J.J. Pacheco. Pacheco leads the team and LSC in runs scored, hits, doubles, stolen bases and total bases.
As a compliment to a need for consistent hitting, Maynard said that the Wildcat starting pitchers needed to put ACU in a position to win.
“It’s up to the pitchers to keep the runs down because we know our hitters are going to score,” Maynard said.
Incarnate Word’s hitters couldn’t score against Maynard Tuesday as he threw six full innings and only allowed one run and six hits in the win. The win was Maynard’s 25th in his ACU career, tying 1966-69 pitcher Bill Gilbreth on the school’s all-time list.
But beyond the personal milestone, Maynard is more concerned with getting his job done on the mound and helping his team win.
“Just plugging along,” Maynard said. “I’m just going by what coach wants me to do.”
Bonneau said the starting pitchers for Friday’s games would most likely be returning starters Chris Wiman and Brian Kennedy. On Saturday Trey Watten will start on the mound in one game and Bonneau is unsure of who will start in the final game of the series but it might be Maynard.