A promising start in non-conference action was greeted by a trio of losses to two-time defending ASC champion Concordia in the Yellow Jackets’ first West division series of the season.
The Yellow Jackets were dealt a 9-2 loss Friday, then fell 8-4 and 4-0 in a rain-shortened doubleheader Saturday at Don Shepard Park.
Howard Payne slipped to 12-10 on the season and 0-3 in ASC West action, while Concordia improved to 10-10 and 3-0 in division play.
In Friday’s 9-2 loss, the Yellow Jackets surrendered the game’s first three runs and allowed at least one run in six of the nine innings. Howard Payne scored single runs in the second and eighth.
Corey Howie took the loss, surrendering six runs on seven hits with one strikeout and four walks in four innings.
Offensively, Chase Holmes led Howard Payne with two hits followed by one each from Colton Buzzard, Kyle Kulczyk, Alan Sailors and Dusty Taylor.
HPU scored its run in the second inning on a Taylor RBI single that plated Ben Butler, while Holmes knocked in Kulczyk in the eighth with an RBI single.
Austin Rupert earned the win on the mound for Concordia, yielding one run on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
Offensively, Brent Schaekel recorded three of Concordia’s 11 hits while Andrew Burns and Joe McManemin finished with two RBIs apiece.
In Saturday’s 8-4 defeat, the Yellow Jackets again dug a deep hole by spotting Concordia the first five runs.
Howard Payne pushed a run across the plate in the fourth inning and added three more in the seventh, after Concordia had stretched the lead to seven runs.
Butler was tagged with the loss on the mound for HPU, allowing six runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk in six innings.
Concordia’s Ryan Ullman went the distance and gave up four runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
Jake Sadler collected three hits for the Yellow Jackets followed by two each from Carlton Brown and Joshua Martinez and one apiece from Sam Dollahite, Ryan Klose, Taylor and Kulczyk. Brown also tallied three RBIs while Martinez chipped in one.
Burns and Brandon Holler paced Concordia with two hits each, while Chance Leissner drove in three runs and Matt Smith added two RBIs.
Brown’s sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Sadler, while in the seventh Martinez singled home Dollahite and Brown’s two-RBI triple plated Martinez and Sadler.
In the 4-0 series finale, the Yellow Jackets mustered just one hit — that coming from Sadler — in seven innings against Scott Weinschenk.
Gilbert Barrera allowed four runs — one earned — on seven hits with five strikeouts to Concordia.
Casey Skalaban and Leissner finished with two hits each for the Tornados while Leissner, Holler, Trevor Harlos and Tyler Bain were credited with RBIs.
The Yellow Jackets are slated to travel to Southwestern Tuesday in non-conference action, then resume ASC West competition with another three-game home set against Mary Hardin-Baylor Friday and Saturday.