The Wildcat baseball team could only come away with one victory in the three-day Whitten Inn Classic this past weekend.
Facing three Lone Star Conference opponents, the ‘Cats lost their first two games 6-2 to Eastern New Mexico University and 9-6 to Cameron University. The final game, the team managed to beat Tarleton State University 6-1.
Infielder Rodge Macy said the team did not fully come together until Sunday.
“There were spots where we definitely struggled,” Macy said. “Not all the aspects of the game came together on Friday and Saturday. (This weekend) showed what were capable of when we play as a unit.”
“We have to start finishing out the whole game,” Macy said. “Our intensity and energy must stay high the entire time.”
Friday night’s game against ENMU was settled by two errors and a passed ball in the fourth inning. The Greyhounds took the lead for good on the mishaps, scoring three runs off of ACU starter Aaron Lambrix (1-2).
Daniel Binz started the inning with a one-out double and Sam Hedrick reached on an error by the third baseman, putting runners at the corners. Lambrix loaded the bases when he hit Dillon Downs.
Lambrix had an opportunity to escape the inning with a 2-0 lead however, when an ENMU player hit a tapper back to the mound, Lambrix’s throw bounced a foot in front of catcher Emmett Niland and rolled back to the wall. Eastern tied the game on the play and then scored another run on a passed ball making it a 3-2 ballgame.
The Greyhounds gained a four-run advantage in the sixth with three runs against Lambrix and reliever Brady Rodriguez.
The Wildcats got to the Greyhounds starter Gabriel Hemmer (1-1) with single runs in the second and third to take an early 2-0 lead, but the ‘Cat offense was anemic between the third and eighth innings (tabbing only two hits).
Hemmer went 7.0 innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out three.
ACU could not turn its fortune around Saturday night. Cameron topped off a six-run seventh with a three-run home run by Kevin Lum.
The rally began with reliever Clint Cooper pitching, one out and the game tied at 3-3. After third baseman Duncan Blades thought a double down the left-field line was foul, both he and head coach Britt Bonneau protested the call. It was to no avail however, as the umpires upheld their decision.
CU then took the lead on a double to right. The next two batters both reached base on outfield singles. When Lum came to bat with two men on, he proceeded to launched a shot over the wall in left giving the Aggies a 9-3 lead.
The Wildcats wouldn’t go down without a fight. The team got two runs back in the eighth thanks to Reed Watson’s triple to right. Watson crossed home plate on Aaron Kleekamp’s wild pitch to make it 9-6. The inning ended prematurely though, after Chuck Duarte flied out to left, leaving two runners stranded.
Clay Vanderlaan (3-0) started on the mound for Cameron. He trudged through 7.0 innings, allowing only three runs on four hits and striking out six.
Bonneau said the first two games boiled down to several bad defensive plays and inconsistent pitching and hitting.
The Sunday finale of the Whitten Inn Classic featured a three-hit, 8.0 inning pitching performance by junior Austin Palmer (1-0).
The 6-1 win snapped a two-game losing streak for ACU and ended their season-opening 18-game home stand at 11-7.
“Game three against Tarleton was probably one of the best games I’ve seen here in a long time,” Bonneau said.
Palmer began the game with three walks through the first two innings. The first walk scored on a double which was the Texans only run and lead of the night.
Palmer was nearly perfect after that as he retired the first three batters in four of his last five innings.
“Palmer really took a step forward in his maturity as a starting pitcher,” Bonneau said.
The Wildcat offense scored four runs in the first two innings of off TSU starter Joseph Aquino (0-2).
ACU hits the road for a doubleheader at Delta State University on March 10.