Yellow Jackets split first two baseball games at East Texas Baptist

DERRICK STUCKLY BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com
John Elmore (29) finished with two hits and an RBI in the Yellow Jackets’ 3-2 win over ETBU.

MARSHALL — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets were limited to three runs over 16 innings Saturday, but still managed to split their first two games of an American Southwest Conference baseball series with the East Texas Baptist Tigers.

The Yellow Jackets dropped the first game, 3-0, but rebounded for a 3-2 victory in the nightcap. The series finale will be played at 2 p.m. today. The first game of the series was slated for Friday, but was rescheduled due to rain and thunderstorms in the area Friday night.

In Saturday’s second game, Howard Payne (10-12, 7-10) finished with nine hits off the ETBU (7-17, 4-13) pitching combination of Jordan Wilkerson, Jacob Wadle and Kirby Moore. Matthew Daniel and John Elmore recorded two hits apiece while the Yellow Jackets received one each from Joshua Martinez, Brett Quackenbush, Will Roberts, Jake Sadler and Connor Roberts.

Matthew Parks pitched another gem for Howard Payne as he yielded one earned run on six hits with two strikeouts and five walks over seven innings. Jaime Boyd worked the final two innings to notch the save, surrendering just one hit.

After being held scoreless through the first 11 innings of action Saturday, HPU struck for its initial run of the day — and of Game 2 — in the top of the fifth inning.

Elmore reached on an infield single and Quackenbush singled to right field ahead of a fielder’s choice by Sadler that retired Elmore at third. Quackenbush was picked off later in the inning for the second out. With two outs and Sadler on second, Connor Roberts reached on an infield single, while an ETBU error on the play allowed Sadler to race home with the first run.

ETBU grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh as Conner Combs led off with a double to right-center field, then Wes Dorough came through with an RBI single that scored Combs. Later in the inning, Phillip Windham reached on RBI fielder’s choice that scored Matt Sullivan, who got on base via an HPU miscue.

The Yellow Jackets wasted little time responding, however, as HPU scored the tying and winning runs in the top of the eighth inning.

Martinez walked with one out for Howard Payne, then Kyle Kulczyk drew a two-out free pass. Elmore’s RBI single to center field scored Martinez with the tying run, then Will Roberts, pinch-hitting for Quackenbush, drove home with Kulczyk with an RBI single to push the Yellow Jackets back in front by the final 3-2 tally.

In Saturday’s opener, ETBU snapped a seven-game slump by blanking the Yellow Jackets.

Zack Tampke tossed a two-hitter for East Texas Baptist, surrendering a third-inning single to Colton Brown and a fifth-inning leadoff single to Quackenbush.

Corey Howie toed the rubber for the Yellow Jackets and gave up just four hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

ETBU scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth as Combs singled home Tyler Bates, who reached on a leadoff single; Jordan Brewer reached on an RBI fielder’s choice that plated Taylor Turley, who was hit by a pitch; and Sullivan’s RBI fielder’s choice scored Jaxon Rader, who reached on a bunt single.