The annual ACU/Whitten Inn Classic starts this weekend at Crutcher Scott Field.
The No. 27 Wildcat baseball team will play Lone Star Conference rivals Cameron University, Eastern New Mexico University and Tarleton State University. None of these games count towards the LSC standings but, this will be the first time the team has faced conference opponents this year.
Head coach Britt Bonneau knows his team must play at its best.
“In-region games are important,” Bonneau said. “Any loss can be held against you at the end of the year. These games should prepare us for the upcoming weeks.”
Pitcher Clint Cooper agreed with Bonneau.
“We’re the highest ranked team out of the four,” Cooper said. “We have a target on our back so it’s extremely important we come out playing strong.”
The games begin on Friday and will end on Sunday. All neutral site match-ups are scheduled for 1:05 p.m, while Wildcat home games are at 6:05 p.m. ACU takes on Eastern New Mexico (6-5) first, then Cameron (10-5) on Saturday and finally ends the Classic against Tarleton State (5-5) Sunday.
Bonneau said four very different teams are meeting up this weekend.
“You’ve got four teams that all have strengths in different areas of the game,” Bonneau said. “Tarleton can throw the ball really well. Eastern New Mexico has a new coaching staff and is playing well.”
“It’s going to be challenging because you could easily get everybody’s number one starter so, we’ve got to be ready to play every night,” Bonneau said.
In the LSC preseason poll voting, TSU was picked to finish second with 126 points and one first-place vote. CU was third with 105 points and two first-place votes. The ‘Cats and Angelo State University finished tied for fourth place at 91 points and ENMU ended up at the bottom with 25 points.
After the Wildcat’s split with East Central University last weekend, the team has won or tied all four of its weekend series.
ACU batted .284 versus the ECU starting rotation and scored 20 runs. 10 of the club’s hits went for extra bases including a triple by outfielder Tyler Eager and the first home run by junior designated hitter Kyle Conwell.
Infielder Duncan Blades hit over .500 for the series (.538) as he went 7 for 13 with three runs, four RBI and a stolen base. Blades has a current hitting streak of six games.
Catcher Emmett Niland, infielder Rodge Macy and second baseman Chuck Duarte also had a batting average of over .300 or better on the series.
Southpaw Austin Palmer shined on the mound for the ‘Cats. In his lone start, he went 5.0 innings allowed one earned run and struck out three in a 5-2 victory on Sunday.
Left-handed reliever Brady Rodriguez was also brilliant. He appeared in all four games against the Tigers and went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 4.1 innings of work.
Another pitcher to take note of is closer Josh Stone who saved game one in relief of Rodriguez and picked up the win in game four.