Howard Payne dropped two of three American Southwest Conference games against the Louisiana College Wildcats over the weekend, as the Yellow Jackets’ season ended without a postseason berth.
After a 10-1 victory in Friday’s opener at Don Shepard Park, the Yellow Jackets dropped the second game of a doubleheader, 6-2, and Saturday’s season finale, 12-9.
The Yellow Jackets finished with a 21-19 overall record, but just 9-15 in ASC action as Howard Payne came in 10th place. The top eight teams move on to the American Southwest Conference tournament.
In the 10-1 victory over ninth-place finisher Louisiana College (20-14, 9-14), Howard Payne erupted for all of its runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Leadoff batter Jay Holland started the inning with a walk, Cliff Lunceford singled to right field and Blake Null walked with one out to load the bases. Benjamin Lewis’ two-RBI single to left-center field drove home Holland and Lunceford, then David Groves walked. Noah Payne followed with an RBI single to right field that plated Null with the third run.
An RBI ground out by Jacob Rodriguez plated Lewis with the fourth run ahead of a walk by JW Ledbetter. Holland then reached on an RBI infield single to third base that drove in Groves. Lunceford followed with a two-RBI double to right field that knocked in Payne and Ledbetter.
Following a Joshua Gerig walk, Null reached on an error that allowed Holland to come home. Lewis then doubled to right-center field to plate two — Gerig and Lunceford.
The Yellow Jackets finished with seven hits — two each by Lunceford and Lewis and one apiece by Holland, Gerig and Payne.
Howard Payne’s Brendan Clanton and Vernon Hart combined to toss an eight-hitter with five walks and four strikeouts. Clanton worked five innings to tally the win.
In the 6-2 loss, Howard Payne surrendered four runs in the top of the second inning as Louisiana College broke a 1-all tie. The Wildcats also added a run in the fourth, while HPU didn’t score again until scratching across a run in the bottom of the ninth.
HPU’s run in the first was the result of a one-out RBI single to field by Null, which scored Holland after he began the frame with a single in the right side.
The Yellow Jackets’ final run was the result of a Noah Coronado RBI sacrifice fly, which drove in Lewis after a leadoff single into left field.
Seth Owen took the loss on the mound, yielding six runs — five earned — on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts over four innings. Wesley Smith pitched the final five innings, giving up just three hits with nine strikeouts.
In the season finale, Howard Payne owned an 8-5 lead after two innings, but mustered just one more run, that coming in the bottom of the eighth to knot the score at 9. Louisiana College scored three runs in the top of the ninth to secure the victory.
The Yellow Jackets pitching combination of Dylan Vilaros, Shawn Brody, Jonathan George and Evan Rodriguez surrendered 17 hits and nine earned runs with five walks and 11 strikeouts.
HPU finished with 13 hits — five by Lunceford, two each from Lewis and Rodriguez and one apiece by Holland, Gerig, Groves and Bailey Smith.
Trailing 2-0 after half an inning, the Yellow Jackets grabbed a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first. Lunceford singled with one out, Gerig walked and Null was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lewis followed with a two-RBI single to left-center to tie the game, then Null later scored on a wild pitch.
Louisiana College regained a 5-2 lead in the top of the second, but HPU answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame.
Holland walked with one out then Lunceford followed with a single and Gerig was hit by a pitch to load the sacks. Null walked to pick up an RBI, then Lunceford scored on a wild pitch. Groves’ RBI single plated Gerig, while Rodriguez followed with a two-RBI single to left.
The Yellow Jackets’ final run of the season was the result of Groves reaching on a two-out error, which plated Gerig who reached on a bunt single.