HOUSTON — The reigning American Southwest Conference regular season baseball champion Howard Payne Yellow Jackets opened their 2020 baseball campaign with four games against the University of St. Thomas over the weekend, notching three victories.
The Yellow Jackets won the season opener, 12-5, Friday afternoon, behind a 16-hit performance. Howard Payne opened the contest with four runs in the top of the first inning and added eight more in the fifth.
Leading the way offensively were Nolyn Box (4 for 5, one RBI); David Paleo (2 for 3, three RBI); (Cason Wert 2 for 3, two runs); Jared Pollock (1 for 2, one RBI); Sam Bosher (1 for 2, double, two RBI); Cade Varrichio (1 for 2, triple, two RBI); Joey Villarreal (1 for 3, RBI); and Rylee McGee (1 for 4, two RBI).
The Yellow Jackets yielded five runs — two in the second, one in the third and two more in the sixth — on nine hits with three strikeouts, three walks and three errors.
On the mound for HPU were Xavier Haines, who tossed 4.2 innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk, to earn the victory; Seth Brody, who gave up two runs on three hits with one walk in one inning; Landin Blass, who struck out one and walked one in one-third of an inning; and Koby Hasty, who fanned two batters in one inning of work.
In Friday's nightcap, the Yellow Jackets added a 12-2 victory.
Howard Payne spread its dozen runs across five innings — two each in the second and third, three in the fourth, two more in the sixth and the final three in the seventh.
The 11-hit onslaught included three hits, including a double, and three RBI from Box; two hits, both doubles, and a pair of RBI from Jonathan McKay; a double and two RBI from Derek Gifford; a single and an RBI from Varrichio; one hit each from Wert and Bosher; and an RBI by Seth Stephens.
On the mound, Bryant Chambers allowed single runs in the second and third innings and five hits over five innings, with five strikeouts and a pair of walks. Ethan Cerna and J.T. Howard both pitched one scoreless inning of relief.
Saturday's opener of a twin bill saw St. Thomas pick up an 11-7 victory.
The Yellow Jackets fell behind 3-1 after one inning, 7-1 after three, and 8-1 after four frames. HPU closed the gap to 8-4 in the fifth and added three more runs in the seventh.
Howard Payne collected 14 hits — two each by Paleo, McGee, McKay and Keldon Crawford, and one apiece from Villarreal, Box, Gifford, Kade Coleman, Noah Coronado and Wylan Kolts. Coleman homered and drove in three while McGee added two RBI and Box and McKay picked up an RBI apiece.
On the mound, Jeramy Dodson, Johnny Cravey, Nick Diaz and Ty Garner yielded six earned runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts and six walks.
In the series finale Saturday, the Yellow Jackets rebounded with a 7-5 triumph.
Howard Payne jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the second inning and fought off a late St. Thomas rally.
The Yellow Jackets finished with just four hits — one each by Wert, Villarreal, Box and Mark Willoughby. Wert drove in two runs while Villarreal, Varrichio and Collin Davis added one RBI each.
On the mound, Kyle Purdes picked up the win after allowing one run on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in five innings. Blass and Kory Owen tossed one inning of relief each, with Klass surrendering two runs on one hit with a pair of walks and a strikeout.
Defensively, HPU committed three errors that led to four unearned runs.
The Yellow Jackets (3-1) are back in action at noon Saturday as they open the home portion of their schedule with a doubleheader against the University of Dallas at Don Shepard Park — where HPU owned a 17-4 record last season.