Yellow Jackets drop ASC series opener to Hardin-Simmons in 17-10 slugfest

HPU second baseman Cody Cain (6) attempts to turn a double play after forcing out Hardin-Simmons’ Colson Craddick (34) during the Yellow Jackets’ 17-10 loss Friday.

The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets shaved an 11-run deficit down to four, but their comeback attempt was eventually thwarted by the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys, 17-10, Friday afternoon at Don Shepard Park in the opener of a three-game American Southwest Conference baseball series.

The Yellow Jackets (8-10, 5-8) entered the weekend tied for fifth place in the ASC baseball standings, one game ahead of Hardin-Simmons (8-10, 5-8), which drew even with Howard Payne following Friday’s encounter.

The final two games of the series are slated to begin at 1 p.m. today at Don Shepard Park.

Behind a five-run top of the sixth inning and three runs in the top of the seventh, Hardin-Simmons opened a 13-2 advantage. Faced with being run-ruled in the bottom of the seventh, the Yellow Jackets answered with three runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Cowboys tacked on another run in the top of the eighth, but Howard Payne fired back with five runs to close the gap to 14-10. Hardin-Simmons tacked on three more runs in the top of the ninth, however, to ice the victory.

Howard Payne generated 12 hits off the Hardin-Simmons pitching combination of Eric Zamora, Sam Hallen and Alex Bradley.

Colton Brown led the HPU attack with a home run, a triple and four RBIs, while Matthew Daniel and John Elmore finished with a pair of hits and two RBIs apiece. Kyle Kulczyk also contributed two hits, while Cody Cain added one hit and one RBI. Will Roberts, Jake Sadler and Dustin DeJohn chipped in a base hit each as well.

Corey Howie, Ethan Ferrel, Garrett Virgin, Quinton Poe, Boardman Adams, Dustin Kelver, Mitchell Marquis and Jamie Boyd all saw time on the mound for Howard Payne. The Yellow Jackets pitching staff yielded 14 earned runs on 20 hits, while striking out 10 and issuing only three walks.

Defensively, HPU committed three errors.

Top offensive performers for the Cowboys included Marcus Uechi with three hits — including a home run — and five RBIs, while Jon Finney and Brandon Walker both finished with two hits and three RBIs. Caleb Jacques recorded three hits with a pair of RBIs, while Zack de Luna also produced three hits.

HPU tallied single runs in the third and fifth innings as Cain singled home DeJohn for the first run, and Daniel knocked in Martinez with a base hit for the second.

During the Yellow Jackets’ three-run seventh, Brown tripled to left-center field to knock in Elmore, who led off the frame with a single, then Brown scored on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Daniel doubled home Martinez, who reached on a walk.

In HPU’s five-run eighth, Elmore drove in Sadler, who reached on a singles, while an error on the play also allowed Roberts, who doubled, to come home. Brown followed with a three-run homer that also scored Elmore and DeJohn.