By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The ACU baseball team has not lost a game at home; the Wildcats have downed every challenger to play at Crutcher Scott Field in 2007 and now holds a No. 9 national ranking because of it.
But this weekend against Southeastern Oklahoma State, ACU will defend its undefeated home record without lead-off hitter, leading-base stealer and starting second baseman J.J. Pacheco.
“Not having Pacheco in the lineup changes things,” said head coach Britt Bonneau. “We’ve got to ask a guy to step up and play. And whoever that is we will need him to be able to produce.”
Pacheco injured his shoulder during ACU’s series against Northeastern State on Feb. 23 and Bonneau said he will most likely be out of the lineup for 3-4 weeks.
Pacheco, who is in his first year with the Wildcats after transferring from Chabot Community College, has a .396 batting average, leads the team with seven steals and six doubles and has committed no errors in 14 starts for a perfect 1.0 fielding percentage.
Bonneau said utility player Willy Uechi will start in Pacheco’s spot at second while outfielder Matt Spotanski will be lead-off hitter.
Uechi has a .973 fielding percentage and Spotanski has a .412 batting average.
Beyond the loss of Pacheco, Bonneau said he is concerned with Southeastern’s starting pitchers.
“We got our hands full with Southeastern,” Bonneau said.
Southeastern’s bullpen holds a 6.37 ERA and has only five wins, compared to ACU’s conference leading 3.23 ERA and 11 wins.
ACU is also first in the LSC with a .388 batting average and .975 fielding percentage.
Southeastern is 5-7 after two straight losses to Ouachita Baptist on Tuesday and split both of its four-game series against other LSC South teams Texas A&M-Kingsville and Eastern New Mexico.
No. 20 Ouachita routed Southeastern 12-4, 17-4 and swung for 32 hits in the two games.
Despite Southeastern’s recent slump, starting pitcher Ben Maynard said Southeastern is his first challenge this season.
“To me this is the first real test of the season,” Maynard said. “Inter-conference competition is a lot different than those early games.”
The 2005 LSC Pitcher of the Year is 2-0 this season and holds a team best .60 ERA. Maynard, who has never been a power pitcher, said he expects Southeastern’s lineup to be scrappy and to fight to get on base and around the diamond, but he will adjust to fit their hitting style.
“I’m a junk pitcher,” Maynard said. “I’m not gonna blow anybody away [at] 84 [mph]; I’ve got to adjust.”
Bonneau said pitchers Brian Kennedy, Matt Davis and Trey Watten will start on the mound against Southeastern.