The baseball team played several back and forth contests over spring break in two separate away series.
The Wildcats first road trip was to Cleveland, Miss. to play No. 7 Delta State University. In the first two games, ACU lost 9-4, then won 6-3. The Statesmen closed out the three-game series with a 7-6 victory.
Head coach Britt Bonneau was happy despite losing the series.
“Overall we played better than we had been,” Bonneau said. “It was a good test for us. Their a very good team.”
The following week, the ‘Cats traveled to San Antonio to face Lone Star Conference opponent University of the Incarnate Word in a four-game set.
ACU won the opening game 11-8 but came out on the losing end of a double header then next day, falling 3-1 and 5-1. The team earned a split of the series in the final game winning 13-10 in extra innings.
Second baseman Chuck Duarte said the last win against Incarnate Word was clutch.
“That win put us in a good position for our upcoming series with Tarleton State,” Duarte said.
In all, the Wildcats finished the two road trips at 3-4 (14-11 overall) and are 2-2 to open conference play.
In the first game against Delta State, the Statesmen jumped out to an early lead scoring three runs in the first inning off of ACU starting pitcher Jordan Herrera. That score remained through five innings before the ‘Cats took the lead in the top of the sixth with four runs.
The lead did not last long however, as DSU put up five runs on four hits and one error in the bottom of the sixth to lead 8-4.
The Statesmen took another early lead in the second game. Delta State led 2-0 in the first after scoring both runs on an error by right fielder Rodge Macy.
Macy cut the lead to 2-1 when he drove in Kevin Finklea in the third. The Wildcats overtook DSU in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs, one on an RBI single by Kyle Conwell and the other on an error by the Statesmen.
Delta State tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
The ‘Cats secured the win in the top of the seventh beginning with Conwell’s home run to left-center to put the team ahead 4-3.
The Statesmen rallied from behind in the final game. The team scored single runs in both the eighth and ninth to win in walk-off fashion and claim the series.
ACU made it a close game after scoring two runs in the third, two in the sixth and the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh (lead 6-5).
Finklea led off the top of the seventh with a home run to left field.
Bonneau brought in his closer Josh Stone with a one-run lead in the eighth, but Stone could not maintain it. DSU led off the inning with a double. With one out, a base hit into left-center field brought in the game-tying run.
In the ninth, Delta State beat out an infield single. The next Statesmen batter whacked a game winning double into right field to claim the 7-6 victory.
The first game against Incarnate Word was a sloppy affair for both clubs. The teams combined to use nine pitchers and gave up 26 hits while there were 12 errors total.
The Wildcats trailed 5-3 after three innings before getting three runs in the fourth and five in the sixth.
The ACU offense struggled in the second and third contests. UIW pitching limited the ‘Cats to 12 hits and two runs total for both games.
“In the two middle games, their pitchers shut us out,” Bonneau said.
The Wildcats put together only six hits in a 3-1 loss and six more hits in a 5-1 loss.
Herrera went six strong innings and allowed three runs in the second game.
The final match-up was a wild one between the ‘Cats and Cardinals.
ACU scored six runs in the top of the 10th inning and then barely hung on in the bottom half of the inning to take a 13-10 win.
Abilene Christian had a comfortable 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning before UIW scored one run in the eighth and three in the ninth to tie the game 7-7 and send it to extra innings.
With a 13-7 ‘Cat advantage in the bottom of the 10th and the bases loaded with Cardinals, Schuetze was brought in to pitch and got a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. He did this despite being extremely ill the night before.
“Shuetze got extremely sick the night before and couldn’t play on Sunday but he managed to close out the game for us,” Duarte said.