HPU hosts LeTourneau at 3 p.m. Thursday to open postseason play

The American Southwest Conference baseball regular season champion Howard Payne Yellow Jackets completed a three-game sweep of the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys with a 5-4 Sunday victory at Don Shepard Park.

Next up for the Yellow Jackets (26-14, 17-4) is hosting of one of the two four-team brackets that make up the first half of the ASC championship tournament. Runner-up Concordia (29-10, 15-6) will be site of the other bracket, with action slated in the double-elimination tournaments set for Thursday through Saturday. The winners of the two brackets will meet at the site of the highest remaining seed the weekend of May 9-11 in a best of three series to determine the ASC tournament champion and automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament, which UT-Tyler won last season.

Joining the No. 1 seed Yellow Jackets at Don Shepard Park - where Howard Payne owns a 17-3 record this season, with one loss to an ASC foe - will be No. 8 seed LeTourneau (21-19, 10-11), No. 4 seed Louisiana Colllege (29-10, 16-8) and No. 5 seed UT-Dallas (20-19, 12-9). HPU opens tournament play at 3 p.m. Thursday against LeTourneau, which took two of three games from the Yellow Jackets in Longview April 11-12. Louisiana College and UT-Dallas will get the action started at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The bracket at No. 2 Concordia consists of No. 7 Sul Ross (17-20, 11-10), No. 3 seed East Texas Baptist (28-12, 17-7) and No. 6 seed Hardin-Simmons (18-20, 12-10).

In's HPU win over Hardin-Simmons Sunday, the Yellow Jackets took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, fell behind 3-2 in the top of the fifth, regained a 4-3 edge in the bottom of the frame and tacked on a needed insurance run in the sixth, as the Cowboys scored once more in the eighth.

The Yellow Jackets finished with 10 hits - two from Tucker Cavaness, who also drove in a pair of runs; and one each from Cliff Lunceford and Cade Varrichio, who also picked up RBI, as well as Keldon Crawford, Jacob Rodriguez, Jacob Salazar, Sam Bosher, David Groves and Manny Torralba. ASC record holder for triples in a single season, Noah Payne, contributed an RBI as well.

On the mound, Preston Newman, Ben Schardt, Ethan Cerna, Ryan Richardson and Brenden Clanton teamed up to surrender three earned runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Defensively, Howard Payne was able to overcome three errors.

In HPU's fourth inning, Salazar led off with a single to center field, Zach Gingrich walked with one out and Cavaness loaded the bases with a single up the middle. Lunceford followed with an RBI infield single to shortstop, and Payne drew a bases-loaded walk to stake HPU to a 2-0 lead.

Down 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Bosher and Torralba both singled with one out and Gingrich followed with a walk to again fill the sacks. Cavaness came through with a two-RBI single to left field, plating Torralba and Bosher to put Howard Payne in front for good, 4-3.

The Yellow Jackets' final run in the sixth inning scored when Varrichio singled into left field with two outs, driving in Crawford who singled up the midde with one out and then stole second base.

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Blue Bracket | Hosted by Howard Payne

Thursday, May 2

11:00 a.m. - Game 1 - #4 Louisiana College (29-10) vs. #5 UT Dallas (20-19)

3:00 p.m. - Game 2 - #1 Howard Payne (26-14) vs. #8 LeTourneau (21-19)

Friday, May 3

10:00 a.m. - Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (elimination)

1:00 p.m. - Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

4:00 p.m. - Game 5 - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (elimination)

Saturday, May 4

Blue Bracket Championship

1:00 p.m. - Game 6 - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

Game 7 - if needed