By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The ACU baseball team is done with the majority of its regular season, but the No. 1 seed in the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament is still theirs to lose.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, nationally ranked ACU is tied with Angelo State for first place in the LSC South Division and must win its series against fifth place Eastern New Mexico this weekend to remain atop the LSC.
“Its our conference to lose,” said second baseman Thomas Bumpass. “It’s in our hands and we should win out.”
ACU’s 9-3 conference record should be good enough to secure the Wildcats a spot in the LSC tournament, but its performance against its last three opponents, ENMU, Texas-Permian Basin and West Texas A&M, will affect its spot in the South Central regional rankings.
ACU is ranked fourth in the South Central Region after the rankings were released Thursday and needs to continue to win to maintain a high ranking that would put them in the South Central Regional tournament.
“That’s another reason why the next 10 games are important,” said head coach Britt Bonneau.
But before ACU can worry about tournament bids and seeds, Bonneau said his team has to finish its last bit of the regular season strong, starting with its four-game series against Eastern New Mexico this weekend.
On paper ACU is a far better team than ENMU. ACU has a conference leading offense, and the Wildcats team batting average of .360 is the seventh best total in Division II baseball.
ACU is also first in the LSC in team pitching with a 4.46 ERA and first in team fielding with a .971 fielding percentage. ENMU hits .336 as a team, but its 8.38 ERA is the worst in the LSC South.
“Anything but a sweep will be a disappointment,” Bumpass said.
Despite the distance between the two teams in LSC rankings, Bonneau said his team needs to stay focused and not get cocky.
“Just because it looks good on paper doesn’t really mean anything,” Bonneau said. “We can’t beat ourselves this weekend.”
ENMU is one spot away from making the LSC tournament and needs an upset to pass fourth-place Tarleton State. But that upset will be difficult against the conference’s best bullpen at its home field.
ACU’s bullpen is 22-3 at home and in addition to record setting closer Jameson Maj – Maj broke the LSC and ACU single season records for saves and ACU career saves record – ENMU will face three of the conference’s best starting pitchers in Trey Watten, Chris Wiman and Brian Kennedy.
Watten is 7-0 with a 3.83 ERA, Wiman is 6-2 with a 4.95 ERA, and Kennedy is this week’s LSC South Pitcher of the Week after pitching 7 1/3 innings for his seventh win against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
ACU will take on ENMU at Crutcher Scott Field in its first doubleheader at 4 p.m. Friday and finish the series with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m.