HPU falls behind by eight runs early as seven-game win streak ends

The Concordia Tornados tallied the first eight runs as the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets witnessed their seven-game win streak end, 14-8, in Friday’s opener of a three-game American Southwest Conference baseball series at Don Shepard Park.

HPU will host Games 2 and 3 of the series at 1 p.m. today.

The Yellow Jackets (14-8, 7-3) crept within three runs through eight innings, but the Tornados (16-11, 8-5) tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Concordia scored twice in the top of the first inning and added six runs in the second inning before HPU sliced into the deficit with a three-spot in the bottom of the second.

The Tornados stretched the lead to 9-3 in the fourth, but the Yellow Jackets crept within 9-5 after five. Concordia extended the advantage to 11-5 in the top of the seventh, but HPU immediately responded with three runs to close the gap to 11-8.

The Howard Payne pitching combination of Matthew Parks, Jonathan George, Wesley Smith, Ethan Cerna and Chad Anders yielded 13 earned runs on 18 hits with five walks issued and nine strikeouts registered. Parks (4-2) started and took the loss, giving up eight runs on 10 hits with one strikeout and two walks in four innings.

Matthew Brown tallied the win in relief for Concordia, working four innings and giving up two runs on five hits with four strikeouts.

Standouts for the HPU offense included Jacob Salazar with three of the Yellow Jackets’ 10 hits while David Groves chipped in a pair and Joshua Gerig, Noah Payne, Brett Quackenbush, Benjamin Lewis and Jay Holland added one apiece. Gerig and Salazar doubled, while Quackenbush, Lewis, Groves, Holland, Salazar, Michael Nowak and Cliff Lunceford notched RBIs.

Concordia’s Bret Leiferman finished 4 of 6 with two RBIs, Caleb Maddox went 3 of 5 with two runs scored, and Casen Novak was 2 of 4 with four runs scored and a pair of RBIs.