ABILENE — After dropping two consecutive American Southwest Conference baseball series, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets won their first in the month of April by taking two of three games from the McMurry Warhawks Thursday and Friday.
The Yellow Jackets opened the series with an 8-6 victory Thursday night and followed with a 5-2 triumph in the first game of a Friday doubleheader. McMurry claimed the series finale, 20-1 — the second loss by that score for HPU in a series finale in three weeks.
In Thursday’s win, HPU (17-13, 10-8) scored five runs in its final two trips to the plate to put away McMurry (12-22, 6-12).
Leading 3-2 through six innings, Howard Payne extended its lead to 6-2 in the top of the seventh and 8-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. McMurry scratched across two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth before Zach Moseley secured his ninth save.
Howard Payne was outhit, 12-7, but McMurry committed three errors and issued seven walks.
Brett Quackenbush led the Yellow Jackets with a 2-for-4 effort that featured a home run, double, four RBIs and two runs scored. Joshua Gerig, Noah Payne, Benjamin Lewis and Blake Null each singled, while Bailey Smith tallied an RBI.
On the mound, Matthew Parks notched his fifth victory as he pitched seven innings and yielded three runs — two earned — on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Xavier Haines gave up two runs on three hits with a strikeout and a walk in two-thirds of an inning of relief, while Moseley recorded the final four outs, surrendering a run on two hits with a strikeout.
In Friday’s first game, Howard Payne broke a 2-all tie with the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, then tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth.
Cliff Lunceford singled to start the Yellow Jacket fifth and moved to second on a bunt by Smith. After a Gerig single advanced Lunceford to third, an RBI sacrifice bunt by Payne brought Lunceford home.
Leading 3-2 with two outs in the sixth, Cyrus Coleman and Lunceford reached on back-to-back singles and a dropped third strike allowed Smith to get aboard. With the bases loaded, Gerig picked up an RBI with a walk, then Payne followed with an RBI single that stretched the lead to three runs.
Jonathan George picked up his first win on the mound for the Yellow Jackets, tossing six innings and allowing two runs — one earned — on two hits with a pair of walks and one strikeout. Moseley chalked up his 10th save, pitching a perfect seventh inning.
At the plate, Payne led the charge with three hits and two RBIs, Quackenbush chipped in a couple of hits and a pair of RBIs and Coleman and Lunceford also notched two singles. Gerig, Lewis and Kyle Winstead rounded out the Yellow Jackets’ 12-hit onslaught.
In the series finale, HPU surrendered 16 runs before scratching across its lone run in the sixth inning, as Jay Holland doubled home Byrd, who singled. The Yellow Jackets finished with three hits as Smith tallied the other.
On the mound, five Yellow Jackets saw action with starter Kyle Ramon taking the loss after yielding nine runs — six earned — on five hits with five walks and three strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to host Arlington Baptist in a non-conference doubleheader at 1 p.m. Tuesday, then close the home portion of their schedule with three games against East Texas Baptist Friday and Saturday at Don Shepard Park.