The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets slipped below the .500 mark in American Southwest Conference baseball action, while the East Texas Baptist Tigers moved into second place in the league standings by completing a three-game sweep Saturday afternoon at Don Shepard Park.
Following a 16-8 defeat Friday, the Yellow Jackets fell 7-4 and 8-4 Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets (18-17, 10-11) remained in sixth place in the ASC standings — as the top eight teams advance to the postseason — with three games remaining next weekend at third-place UT-Dallas (28-9, 16-5).
Heading into the final weekend of the season, the Yellow Jackets lead seventh-place Louisiana College (19-16, 9-12) by one game, eighth-place Hardin-Simmons (16-20, 8-13) by two games and ninth-place Sul Ross (14-23, 7-14) by three games.
In Saturday’s doubleheader opener, Howard Payne grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, but East Texas Baptist (26-11, 17-4) immediately answered with four runs in the top of the third. The Tigers tacked on single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, while the Yellow Jackets added solo runs in the fourth and sixth.
Jonathan George took the loss on the mound for the Yellow Jackets, allowing six runs — one earned — on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Chad Anders tossed two innings of relief, yielding a run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout.
At the plate, the Yellow Jackets collected seven hits off the ETBU combination of Zach Pollard, Garrett Penny — who notched the win — and Logan Sprinkle — who picked up the save.
Cliff Lunceford tripled, Noah Payne and Chris Byrd both doubled and Brett Quackenbush, Benjamin Lewis, Michael Nowak, Noah Payne and Bailey Smith singled. Smith finished with two RBIs while Lunceford and Gerig added one RBI apiece.
ETBU received three hits and two RBIs from Conner Combs, a pair of hits and two RBIs from Jaxon Rader and Zach Garner chipped in a hit and a pair of RBIs.
HPU’s two-run second inning featured a two-RBI single by Smith that scored Byrd, who reached on a fielder’s choice, and Lewis, who walked.
In the fourth, Lunceford tripled and scored on an RBI ground out by Gerig, while in the sixth Byrd doubled and came home on an RBI ground out by Lunceford.
In the nightcap, ETBU broke a 2-all tie with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. HPU closed the gap to 4-3, but the Tigers stretched the lead to 6-3 in the sixth.
Kyle Ramon was tagged with the loss, giving up six runs — five earned — on eight hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings. Seth Owen gave up two runs on two hits in one inning of relief, and while Zach Moseley tossed a shutout inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Derrick Findley notched the win for ETBU, yielding four runs — two earned — on six hits with six strikeouts and five walks over 5.1 innings.
Gerig paced the Yellow Jacket offense — which left 11 runners stranded on base — with two hits and three RBIs, Lunceford chipped in a pair of hits, and Quackenbush, Payne, Ian Tyra, Jacob Salazar and Jay Holland also added hits. Nowak contributed an RBI.
Down 2-0 after half an inning, HPU pulled even in the bottom of the first as Lunceford singled, Gerig doubled in a run and Nowak drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Gerig then singled home Lunceford, who tripled, in the fifth, while Gerig’s RBI fielder’s choice in the sixth inning brought home Payne, who singled.