Howard Payne freshman first baseman Blake Null tied an American Southwest Conference record with three home runs, and also collected nine RBIs, as the Yellow Jackets pummeled the McMurry War Hawks, 19-4, Friday afternoon at Don Shepard Park.
In the opener of a three-game ASC weekend set, Null launched a three-run home run in the first inning, crushed another three-run shot in the second and belted a two-run blast in the fourth. He also picked up an RBI on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
Howard Payne (16-11, 5-8) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, then scored six runs each in the second and sixth innings, with two more runs coming in the fourth.
McMurry (7-18, 2-11) used four pitchers with Jack Poe taking the loss after surrendering eight runs — all earned — on five hits and two walks with one strikeout in just over an inning of work.
HPU left fielder Cliff Lunceford also finished with three hits, three runs scored and an RBI, while designated hitter Benjamin Lewis drove in three and tallied a hit, shortstop Joshua Gerig collected two hits and two RBIs with two runs scored, and pinch-hitter Noah Payne drove in a pair with a hit. Center fielder Bailey Smith added two hits, catcher John Killough finished with a hit, RBI and run scored and second baseman Jacob Salazar plated a run.
On the mound for HPU, Dylan Vilaros picked up the win as he worked seven innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. Preston Newman, Brehnen Mitchell and Vernon Hart worked the final two innings, yielding one run on two hits and two walks between them.
In the HPU first, Lunceford singled, third baseman David Groves was hit by a pitch then Gerig doubled home Lunceford. Lewis followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to plate Groves ahead of a walk to right fielder Jay Holland. Null then capped the scoring in the inning with a three-run shot to left center.
The Yellow Jackets' second inning featured a lead double by Smith, a Lunceford single and a Groves walk to fill the sacks. Gerig picked up an RBI on a bases-loaded walk, Lewis drove in two with a single through the left side, then Null hit another three-run blast to left-center.
The two-run fourth saw Gerig start the inning with a walk, then Null connected on a two-run homer to left field.
During the six-run sixth, Gerig, Lewis and Holland walked in succession to start the frame. Null was then walked to plate a run, while Salazar hit into a double play, but Lewis scored. With two outs, Killough tripled home Holland, then Smith walked ahead of an RBI single by Lunceford. Another walk to Groves preceded a two-RBI ground rule double to left center field by Payne that capped the scoring.
Games 2 and 3 of the series, originally schedule for Saturday, will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday due to inclement weather.