The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets earned their second consecutive American Southwest Conference series victory, taking Game 2 over Sul Ross, 11-4, Saturday at Don Shepard Park before the Lobos salvaged the finale with a 15-5 victory.
Howard Payne (11-9, 7-5) — which pulled into a fourth-place tie with Sul Ross (14-13, 7-5) and East Texas Baptist (16-11, 7-5) in the ASC standings — collected a 2-1 win over the Lobos Friday in a pitcher’s duel, but the offenses stole the show Saturday.
In Saturday’s Yellow Jacket triumph, HPU scored twice in the first and second innings and put the game on ice with a six-run bottom of the third.
The Yellow Jackets finished with 11 hits while HPU pitchers Adrian Acosta — who notched the win, going six innings — and Jonathan George yielded a total of 10 hits with one strikeout, two walks and seven runners stranded. Howard Payne’s defense did not commit an error.
Offensive standouts for HPU included Noah Payne with three hits — including a double and a triple — three RBIs and three runs scored, while Cliff Lunceford chipped in a pair of hits and three RBIs. Will Roberts added two hits and a pair of RBIs, Joshua Martinez finished with two hits and one RBI and Matthew Daniel contributed two hits and scored once.
Jeremy Martinez took the loss for Sul Ross, giving up 10 runs — nine earned — on eight hits with three walks and a balk in just 2.2 innings.
Jonathan Bigley recorded three hits and an RBI for the Lobos, Johnny Campos and Ryan Almager each added two hits and Ely Gallego, Chris York and Ryan DeLeon all finished with one hit and one RBI.
In the first inning, Payne reached on the first of two Sul Ross errors and later scored on Lunceford’s RBI single up the middle. An RBI fielder’s choice by Brandon Garrett followed, which scored Roberts who reached on an infield single.
Sul Ross cut the deficit in half, 2-1, in the top of the second, but Howard Payne answered with two more runs in the bottom half. Bailey Smith walked with two outs and scored on an RBI triple by Payne, then Payne came home on a balk.
The Yellow Jackets’ six-run third inning featured a lead single by Daniel through the left side. Seth Dohrman then walked and both runners moved up a base following a failed pick-off attempt. Lunceford then delivered a two-RBI single to left field to drive home both runners and extend the lead to 6-1.
With one out, Zachary Rodriguez walked then Martinez laid down a bunt single just inside the first base line that plated Lunceford with the seventh run. Payne then doubled down the left field line with two outs, which scored Martinez and Rodriguez as the cushion was padded to 9-1. Roberts then doubled home Payne to cap the scoring in the third.
Howard Payne added one final run in the fourth as Martinez doubled with two outs, Smith was plunked and Payne singled into shallow left field to load the sacks. Roberts then struck out swinging, but a dropped third strike allowed Roberts to reach and Martinez to score.
In the series finale, Howard Payne owned a 5-2 lead after three innings, but the Lobos tallied the final 13 runs, using a pair of five-spots in the sixth and seventh innings to seize control.
Tyler Colburn took the loss for the Yellow Jackets, surrendering five runs — three earned — on eight hits with two strikeouts and three walks in five innings. The HPU defense also committed five errors.
Howard Payne finished with seven hits — two each, including one double apiece, from Payne and Daniel, homers from Cody Brown and Brett Quackenbush and a triple from Lunceford. Brown drove in three runs and Quackenbush added two RBIs.
Justin Vajgert notched the win on the mound for the Lobos, giving up five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
Offensive standouts for Sul Ross were Bigley with a double, triple and seven RBIs; York with one hit and three RBIs; Campos with a pair of hits and one RBI; and Gallego with a double and an RBI.
The Yellow Jackets’ next four games are all out of conference — Tuesday at Southwestern Assemblies of God, Friday and Saturday at Arlington Baptist and April 13 against University of the Southwest — before visiting LeTourneau in a three-game ASC set April 15-16.