The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets will need to sweep a Friday home doubleheader to notch their first American Southwest Conference series win after falling to the UT-Dallas Comets, 6-4, in Thursday’s opener at Don Shepard Park.
Despite a 14-9 overall record, the Yellow Jackets fell to 3-7 in conference play with the loss. HPU has dropped its three previous ASC series to Belhaven, Ozarks and East Texas Baptist.
In Thursday’s setback, UT-Dallas (12-11, 7-3) did all its damage in its first trip to the plate, while Howard Payne scored all its runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Dylan Vilaros took the loss for HPU as he worked six innings and surrendered a half-dozen runs on 14 hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Wesley Smith worked 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with two walks, and Evan Rodriguez recorded the final out.
In UT-Dallas’ first, Barry Casey’s one-out RBI single through the right side plated Josh Covey, who led off with a single down the left field line. Connor Scruggs followed with a double to left field, then Dylan Palmer grounded out to drive home Casey. With two down, Scruggs scored on a wild pitch, Luke Richter followed with a single to right, Rodney Corbin doubled home a run, Peyton Becker followed with a two-RBI two-bagger, then Isaiah Swann singled to left to plate the sixth run of the frame.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets’ seventh featured back-to-back singles from Jay Holland and Jacob Rodriguez to start the inning, then John Killough reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Cliff Lunceford then singled up the middle to plate Holland. With one out, David Groves drew an RBI bases-loaded walk that plated Rodriguez. Blake Null followed with a two-RBI single to center that scored Lunceford and Killough. But Benjamin Lewis and Blake Laney were retired on consecutive fly outs to right field to halt the rally.
The Yellow Jackets finished with seven hits — doubles and singles by Lunceford and Holland, along with singles from Null, Lewis and Rodriguez.
Jamie Andriot picked up the win for UT-Dallas, allowing four runs — three earned — on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 6.1 innings.
Game 2 and 3 of the series start at 1 p.m. Saturday at Don Shepard Park.