Yellow Jackets knock off UT-Dallas, 3-1, to salvage series finale
RICHARDSON — With seven American Southwest Conference series remaining on their slate, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets remained in the top eight in the ASC with a 3-1 victory over the UT-Dallas Comets in Saturday’s series finale.
The Yellow Jackets, attempting to end a postseason drought that’s lasted more than a decade, avoided a series sweep and rebounded from losses of 5-4 and 8-7 on Friday.
In Saturday’s weekend finale, Howard Payne (8-9, 5-7) received a complete-game eight-hit gem from Matthew Parks, who improved to 4-1 on the season. Parks struck out seven and walked only one, and did not surrender a run until the bottom of the eighth inning.
Offensively for the Yellow Jackets, Colton Brown and Will Roberts led the seven-hit attack with two each, trailed by one hit apiece from Matthew Daniel, Jake Sadler and Cody Cain. Sadler also collected two RBIs, while Brown contributed the third.
UT-Dallas (9-6, 6-5) started Clayton Buckner on the mound, who lasted six innings and gave up two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Nick Cummings worked the final three innings and gave up one run on one hit with a pair of walks.
Trevor Clifton tallied three of the Comets’ eight hits, trailed by one apiece from Jimmy Norris, Brandon Clouch, Matt Olszewski, Ryan Downs and Wesley Gill.
The Yellow Jackets struck first in the top of the fourth inning as Daniel led off with a double to left-center field. With one out, Roberts singled through the right side to move Daniel to third base. Sadler then reached on an RBI fielder’s choice as Roberts was retired as second base while Daniel crossed the plate.
Howard Payne extended its advantage to 2-0 in the second inning as Roberts laced a two-out double to left-center field ahead of an RBI single into left field by Sadler.
UT-Dallas closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth as Downs led off with a single to left field, then scored when Gill doubled to center field and the Yellow Jackets committed their only error of the contest.
With two on and no outs, Parks induced a double play ball from Nolan Smith, then Nick Marti filed out to left field as the Yellow Jackets avoided further damage and remained in front.
The Yellow Jackets tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth as John Elmore led off with a walk, moved to second on a Dustin DeJohn sacrifice bunt and advanced to third base on a ground out by Cain. Brown then delivered a two-out RBI single into left field that extended the lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the ninth, Clouch doubled with one out, but courtesy-runner Tyler Hobbs was retired for the second out of the inning as Clifton reached on a fielder’s choice. Parks then induced Olszewski into a grounder to second base for the final out.
The Yellow Jackets will be back in ASC action at 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday as they host Hardin-Simmons. Saturday’s action will be a doubleheader.