The Wildcats were five outs away from lassoing up the Cowboys of New Mexico Highlands University over the weekend. However, NMHU scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning on Sunday to earn a split of the four-game home series.
“You know what, sometimes you do a lot of good things and you still lose,” said head coach Britt Bonneau.
ACU dropped to 7-6 overall after the weekend and have split all three of its four-game series this season.
The ‘Cats led Sunday 2-1 until the Cowboys knocked in a two-out run to tie the game 2-2 in the top of the sixth. The team answered in the bottom half with two runs after freshman Heath Beasley came through with a clutch two run single to left field driving in Travis Schuetze and Chuck Duarte.
The squad held that 4-2 lead for 1.1 innings but closer Aaron Lambrix could not keep New Mexico’s hands tied. Lambrix, who took over in the sixth, gave up a one-out solo home run to left field in the eighth that cut the lead to 4-3. He then walked the next batter and allowed a triple to tie the game at 4-4.
“We just weren’t able to bounce back after we gave up the home run,” Bonneau said. “I think that was the turning point.”
After an intentional walk to set up a double play, New Mexico Highlands smacked a single to left field for the go-ahead run. The Cowboys retired the final 10 Wildcats in order to end the series with a 5-4 victory.
“That wasn’t fun, but we can’t be focused on this weekend,” sophomore Tyler Eager said. “We have to move on.”
Starting pitcher Austin Palmer was strong through five innings of work. He gave up two hits and just one run while striking out three. Before this start, he was 0-1 with a 10.38 era in two starts.
“He really bought into going out there and pitching his off-speed and using his fastball when he needed it,” Bonneau said. “We were glad to see that. We were all disappointed in his first two outings.”
Friday night, the ‘Cats opened up the weekend with a 15-5 drubbing at Crutcher Scott Field. The team recorded 14 hits and was helped by nine walks, four errors, two wild pitches, two hit by pitches and a balk.
ACU also tied the single-game team record for stolen bases with nine. The last time this happened was in 2011 in a game versus Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Oddly enough, the Wildcats had only one extra-base hit the entire night, which was recorded by leadoff batter Seth Spivey.
Spivey (2-3), catcher Rodge Macy (2-4), Schuetze (2-3) and Duarte (3-3) all had multi-hit games. Eager drove in three runs.
Southpaw starter Ty Taylor (1-2) tossed 5.0 strong innings, striking out six Cowboys and limiting the team to two runs. Brady Rodriguez threw two scoreless innings in relief of Taylor.
The two teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. The ‘Cats were 10-run-ruled 11-1 in the first game but came back to shut out NMHU 5-0 in the second contest.
Game two starter Carter Hahn improved his record to 2-0 after shutting out the Cowboys over 5.1 innings. Hahn danced out of trouble in the second, third and fourth innings and stranded seven base runners total.
Schuetze went 3-for-6 in the doubleheader. He is leading the team with a .474 batting average.
Eager made a great defensive grab in the third inning of game one. He reached over the fence down the right-field foul line and extended his glove past the first row of bleachers to snag a foul ball.
“They (NMHU) were hitting it over there during batting practice,” Eager said. “I told one of my teammates I was going to catch it if they hit it over there. I had a good bead on it.”
The team hosts the ACU/Whiten Inn Classic this weekend. The squad will play games against Tarleton State (Thursday), Eastern New Mexico (Friday) and Cameron (Saturday).