The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets and Schreiner Mountaineers split of pair of seven-inning non-contest baseball games Wednesday afternoon at Don Shepard Park .
Originally slated for Tuesday but pushed back a day due to the weather, the Yellow Jackets let a seven-run lead slip away in a 12-11 loss to open the proceedings, but bounced back with a 9-2 triumph to salvage the series split.
In Howard Payne's win, the Yellow Jackets (3-7) scored all nine of their runs in the bottom of the third inning. Schreiner (2-6) scratched across single runs in the top of the second and fifth innings.
HPU tallied 10 hits — two each by designated hitter R.J. Roberts, catcher Noah Coronado and shortstop Cade Varrichio. Center fielder Noah Payne, right fielder Nolyn Box, left fielder Kelton Crawford and first baseman Sam Bosher finished with one hit apiece. Box and Bosher both drove in two runs while Roberts, Crawford, Coronado and Varrichio collected one RBI apiece.
On the mound, Graham White, Landin Blass, Johnny Cravey, Preston Newman, Ty Garner, Xavier Haines and Brenden Clanton combined on a six-hitter with seven strikeouts and two walks. Cravey picked up the win, recording his lone out on a strikeout.
The Yellow Jackets' nine-run third began with a strikeout by Coronado, then Varrichio singled through the right side and Payne walked. Jacob Rodriguez flew out to center field for the second out, then the next eight HPU batters reached base.
Box singled and an error on the play allowed both Payne and Varrichio to score, staking the Yellow Jackets to a 2-1 advantage. Roberts then doubled home Box, and Manny Torralba was hit by a pitch prior to Crawford's RBI double. Up 4-1, Bosher's two-RBI double drove in Crawford and Torralba to stretch the lead to five runs. Coronado then singled home Bosher and Varrichio doubled in Coronado to extend the margin to 8-1. Payne later singled and stole second, which resulted in a throwing error that allowed Varrichio to come home with the ninth run of the frame.
In Wednesday's opener, the Yellow Jackets used an eight-run bottom of the second inning to open a 9-2 advantage, but the Mountaineers answered with their own eight-spot in the top of the fifth to reclaim an 11-9 lead. HPU closed the gap to 11-10 in the sixth, but Schreiner added another run in the top of the seventh. The Yellow Jackets again crept within a run in the bottom of the seventh before their rally was snuffed out.
Five Howard Payne pitchers saw action as Newman, Ethan Cerna, Connor Lowe, Ben Schardt and Kyle Prudes combined to yield 12 runs — six earned — on 15 hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Schardt was tagged with the loss, giving up four runs — one earned — on three hits in just one-third of an inning. The Yellow Jacket defense also committed five errors.
Offensively, the Yellow Jackets generated 11 hits, including three triples and a double. Payne, Rodriguez, Cliff Lunceford and Joshua Gerig tallied two hits apiece while Roberts, Zach Gingrich and Rylee McGee added one each. Rodriguez drove in three runs with a triple, Lunceford plated two runs and also tripled, Roberts doubled and knocked in a pair, Payne tripled and tallied an RBI, Gerig collected two RBIs and Gingrich plated a runner as well.
The Yellow Jackets open American Southwest Conference action with three home games against Louisiana College (4-1) this weekend. The series begins with a noon doubleheader Friday at Don Shepard Park, followed by Saturday's noon weekend finale.