By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
Jameson Maj didn’t have to do much to tie the NCAA record for saves in a single season; all he had to do was cap off a stellar performance by starter Trey Watten.
“Jameson has picked me up about 15 times this season,” Watten said.
Thanks to superior performances from both Watten and Maj, ACU beat Central Oklahoma 3-0 and secured its spot in the championship game of the Lone Star Conference Postseason Tournament on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Watten only gave up two hits and struck out seven batters in nearly eight innings of work before head coach Britt Bonneau put Maj in a situation to pick up his 20th save of the season.
“It’s never a bad decision to go to Maj,” Bonneau said.
Maj struck out three of the four UCO batters he faced to lock down the game and help Watten to his tenth win of the season.
“Trey pitched a great game and I didn’t want to blow it,” Maj said. “It’s great to get that win.”
The win was ACU’s ninth shutout of the season and lowered the Wildcats team ERA to a conference best 3.81 ERA. ACU will also make its eighth LSC championship game appearance in the tournament’s 10-year history and with a win on Tuesday ACU will claim its fifth LSC championship.
Three runs and six hits were all ACU needed to beat the defending LSC champions. ACU scored in the top of the fifth after designated hitter J.J. Pacheco hit an RBI double to bring in third baseman Sean Nourie. Pacheco crossed the plate after center fielder Matt Spotanski hit his ninth triple of the season and second baseman Thomas Bumpass ended the rally with an RBI single that brought in Spotanski.
“We got a crooked number up there and that was all Trey needed today,” Bonneau said.
Watten had plenty of support defensively, with most of it coming from shortstop Willy Uechi who recorded six assists. UCO starter Nate Nance dropped to 5-2 after only allowing five hits and striking out six batters in seven innings of work.
UCO will move on to play the winner between Angelo State and Texas A&M-Kingsville at 7 p.m. The winner of that game will play ACU in the championship game at 1 p.m., Tuesday. ACU is now 3-0 in the LSC tournament and will have to lose twice Tuesday to be knocked out. Bonneau said he may go to anyone in his bullpen to start.
“Everyone is fair game but Trey,” Bonneau said.