HPU baseball splits first two with Louisiana College

DERRICK STUCKLY BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com

The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets kicked off their three-game American Southwest Conference baseball series against Louisiana College with a split Friday at Don Shepard Park.

The Yellow Jackets claimed a 4-3 victory in the opener while experiencing a 10-7 defeat in the nightcap. The rubber game of the series will begin at noon today on HPU’s home turf.

In the opener, Howard Payne (6-6, 3-5) scored twice in the bottom of the seventh and final inning after giving up the lead in the top of the seventh.

HPU’s Colton Brown reached on an error to start the seventh and Will Roberts moved Brown to second with a sacrifice bunt. Matthew Daniel then walked ahead of Kyle Kulczyk, who came through with the game-winning two-RBI double down the left field line.

Jacob Spivey went the distance on the mound the notch the victory, yielding two earned runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts and five walks.

The HPU offense generated nine hits, led by three from Kulczyk — who also drove in a team-best three RBIs — and two each from Roberts and Dustin DeJohn. Brown and John Elmore added the other hits, while Roberts collected the fourth RBI.

Howard Payne grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Brown led off with a single, stole second and scored on Roberts’ RBI single into left field.

Tied at 1 going to the bottom of the fifth, Daniel reached on a fielder’s choice, which resulted in the second out of the inning, but scored from first on Kulczyk’s RBI triple to right field.

In the second game, Louisiana College (2-10, 1-8) earned its first ASC victory as the Wildcats tallied four runs in the top of the first inning and never trailed.

Howard Payne drew even at 5 in the bottom of the fourth, but Louisiana College answered with five more runs over the next four innings.

Offensively, HPU finished with 10 hits as Daniel was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Brown added two hits and a pair of RBIs and Kulczyk and Joshua Martinez chipped in two hits as well. DeJohn and Lucas Creed added one hit and one RBI apiece.

On the mound for the Yellow Jackets, Corey Howie was tagged with the loss as he gave up eight runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and one walk in six innings.