HPU baseball drops pair of one-run contests at ASC rival UT-Dallas

DERRICK STUCKLY BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com

RICHARDSON — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets dropped a pair of one-run decisions Friday to open their three-game American Southwest Conference series with the UT-Dallas Comets.

Howard Payne was nipped in the opener, 5-4, while UT-Dallas slipped by with an 8-7 victory in the nightcap.

The series finale between the Yellow Jackets (7-9, 4-7) and Comets (9-5, 6-4) will be played at noon Saturday in Richardson.

In Friday’s opener, the Yellow Jackets owned a 2-1 lead prior to the bottom of the fifth inning, where UT-Dallas struck for four runs. Howard Payne tacked on single runs in the top of the sixth and seventh innings, but were unable to complete the comeback.

Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the fifth inning, Cody Cain and Colton Brown reached on consecutive two-out singles. Dustin DeJohn then reached on an infield single to second, while a throwing error on the play allowed Cain to score. With runners on the corners, DeJohn stole second base, while Brown raced home from third to complete the double steal and push the Yellow Jackets in front.

Howard Payne closed within 5-3 in the sixth inning as Will Roberts homered to left with one out, while in the seventh Joshua Martinez led off with a single and scored on an RBI ground out by Roberts.

UT-Dallas grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth as Brandon Clouch reached on an error that allowed Nick Marti, who singled to start the frame, to score.

During the Comets’ four-run fifth, Pierce Fly led off with a homer, Brandon George chipped in a two-RBI single and Trevor Clifton picked up an RBI on a ground out.

HPU finished with seven hits — two each by Brown and Cain and one apiece by DeJohn, Roberts and Martinez — off UT-Dallas’ Tyler Dauer, who struck out 10 and walked one.

Jacob Spivey went the distance for the Yellow Jackets, allowing three earned runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

During Friday’s second game, the Yellow Jackets trailed 5-1 heading to the top of the fourth inning, where they erupted with five runs to seize a brief 6-5 advantage.

The Comets drew even in the bottom of the sixth and reclaimed an 8-6 advantage in the seventh inning, while the Yellow Jackets scored once in the seventh but could not tack on the tying run.

Howard Payne finished with eight hits — two by Brown and one apiece by Cain, Martinez, Connor Roberts, Kyle Kulczyk, Jake Sadler and Brett Quackenbush. Brown also finished with three RBIs, Connor Roberts added two and Cain was credited with one.

On the mound, Corey Howie pitched all eight innings and yielded six earned runs on 12 hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

Micah Easterling notched the win for the Comets, tossing 6.2 innings and surrendering seven runs on six hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

During HPU’s five-run fourth, Kulczyk and Sadler both singled, then Quackenbush walked to load the bases with no outs.

Connor Roberts delivered a two-RBI double down the left field line that brought HPU within 5-3. Cain followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to trim the deficit to 5-4 ahead of a two-run home run by Brown.

Down 8-6 in the seventh, Cain led off with a double and later scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Brown.

Howard Payne took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Brown was hit by a pitch and scored due to an error after Martinez had reached on an infield single.

UT-Dallas’ four-run third featured a two-RBI single by Clifton and a two-RBI double from Tyler Walker.

The Comets went ahead for good in the sixth on a two-RBI single by Church.