Gearing up for their final American Southwest Conference home series of the season, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets split a non-conference baseball doubleheader against Arlington Baptist Tuesday at Don Shepard Park.
The Yellow Jackets posted a shutout in the opener, notching a 2-0 victory, but were unable to complete the sweep as Arlington Baptist claimed the nightcap, 6-2.
In the opener, Howard Payne scored single runs in the third and fifth innings, while Kyla Ramon, Ethan Cerna, Xavier Haines, Kory Owen and Zach Moseley combined on the seven-inning one-hitter. Haines picked up the win, tossing 2.2 innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Ramon started and went three scoreless innings with three walks and two strikeouts. Moseley notched his 11th save with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh. Cerna yielded a hit to the lone batter he faced.
HPU mustered just four hits off Arlington Baptist (13-28) pitcher Parker Kleinhart, who struck out seven and walked one. Cliff Lunceford tripled, Noah Payne doubled and Kyle Winstead and Joshua Gerig both singled.
In the third inning, Bailey Smith was hit by a pitch with one out, advanced to second on Gerig’s ground out and scored on an RBI double down the left field line by Payne.
In the fifth, Lunceford tripled to right field with one out and came home on an RBI sac bunt by Smith.
Howard Payne scored both its runs in the bottom of the first inning of the nightcap, but Arlington Baptist tallied the final five runs to rally for the victory.
Seth Owen took the loss, allowing two runs — one earned — on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 1.2 innings. Wesley Smith, Nathan Weyrauch, Chad Anders, Seth Brody and Joshua O’Conner also saw time on mound for HPU, allowing four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk between them.
Offensively, HPU generated seven hits off Arlington Baptist’s Josh Darden, who struck out four and left four base runners stranded. Byrd tallied a team-best two hits for the Yellow Jackets while Jay Holland doubled and Lunceford, Jacob Salazar, Benjamin Lewis and Justin Anderson singled.
Howard Payne’s first-inning runs scored when Lunceford and Byrd reached on consecutive singles to start the frame, then came home on a two-out, two-RBI single to left field by Salazar.
The Yellow Jackets (18-14, 10-8) are sixth in the ASC standings heading into the weekend as they host third-place East Texas Baptist (23-11, 14-4) in a single game at 2 p.m. Friday and a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday. The top eight seeds advance to the ASC tournament.