The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets erased a five-run deficit to win Friday's first game of a doubleheader with UT-Dallas, but the Comets snared the Game 3 — and series — victory at Don Shepard Park.
With the split, the Yellow Jackets stand at 15-10 overall on the season, but just 4-8 in American Southwest Conference baseball action, still looking for their first ASC series victory.
After falling 6-4 Thursday, the Yellow Jackets overcame a 5-0 deficit for an 8-6 victory in Friday's first game.
UT-Dallas (13-12, 8-4) scored five runs off Brownwood graduate and HPU starting pitcher Seth Owen in the top of the first inning, but the ex-Lion went on to collect the victory, finishing with five hits and four walks allowed, along with five strikeouts.
Shawn Brody gave up a run on two hits in his only inning of relief, while Brenden Clanton chalked up the save, walking one batter in the seventh.
Howard Payne's rally began with a single run in the bottom of the first, followed by four in the third to pull even at 5. The Yellow Jackets took a 7-5 edge in the bottom of the fourth, which UT-Dallas cut to 7-6 in the top of the fifth, but HPU tacked on an insurance run in the bottom half.
Cliff Lunceford, Jacob Rodriguez, John Killough and Bailey Smith recorded two hits each for HPU, while David Groves, Jay Holland and Noah Payne chipped in one. Smith finished with a team-high three RBIs, Benjamin Lewis added a pair and Groves and Holland were credited with one apiece.
The Yellow Jackets' run in the first inning was the result of Lewis' RBI fielder's choice that drove in Lunceford, who led off with a walk.
Howard Payne evened the score in the third as Groves reached on an error and Null walked, but Groves was erased when Lewis reached on a fielder's choice. With one on and two outs, Holland singled down the right field line to knock in Null, while Lewis scored on an errant throw during the play. Payne followed with an infield single, then Smith delivered a two-RBI base hit that drove home Payne and Holland.
HPU took the lead in the fourth as Rodriguez led off with a single up the middle, then stole second base ahead of Groves' go-ahead RBI single to center field. Lewis later came through with an RBI sacrifice fly that plated Groves.
The final run for the Yellow Jackets crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth as Killough led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Smith's RBI base hit to center field.
In the series finale, UT-Dallas scored 11 runs in the top of the seventh inning to finish off a 20-4 victory.
The Yellow Jackets also surrendered two runs in the first, four in the second, a pair in the third and one in the fifth.
UT-Dallas led 8-0 before Howard Payne scratched across its first two runs, as Jonathan George was tagged with the loss. In 2.1 innings, George gave up eight earned runs on eight hits with three walks. The Comets finished with 17 hits.
Howard Payne mustered five hits — two each by Lunceford and Groves and one by Payne. Groves also collected the Yellow Jackets' two RBIs.
The Yellow Jackets trimmed UT-Dallas' lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the third as Smith reached on a throwing error and Lunceford doubled. Groves then singled home Smith and Lunceford scored when Groves got caught up in a rundown.
HPU tacked on its final two runs in the fifth as Smith, who walked, scored on a throwing error after Lunceford, who singled, stole second base. Groves later knocked in Lunceford with an RBI single to right field.
The Yellow Jackets visit ASC rival Hardin-Simmons (9-17, 7-9) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in non-conference action, then return to league play with three games against McMurry Friday and Saturday. The War Hawks (7-16, 2-10) invade Don Shepard Park at 2 p.m. Friday following by a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader.