HPU baseball slips past LeTourneau, 5-4, in series opener

Derrick Stuckly Brownwood Bulletin derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com

LONGVIEW — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets bounced back from last weekend’s home sweep at the hands of East Texas Baptist with a 5-4 victory over LeTourneau Thursday night in the first of three American Southwest Conference baseball games this weekend.

The Yellow Jackets (11-14, 6-12) scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth inning, which proved to be the difference.

Knotted at 4 to start the eighth, Cody Brown reached on a one-out double for Howard Payne. Jake Sadler followed with a walk. With two down, Joshua Martinez reached base on a LeTourneau (9-8, 7-5) error, which in turn allowed Brown to race home with the go-ahead run.

LeTourneau put two runners on base in the bottom of the eighth inning and one more in the ninth, but the Yellow Jackets were able to maintain their lead down the stretch.

Dustin Kelver picked up the win in relief for Howard Payne, tossing 1.2 innings and allowing just one unearned run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Kyle Ramon notched the save as he worked the final 1.2 innings and fanned two batters while walking one.

Howard Payne finished with seven hits to 10 by LeTourneau and the Yellow Jackets committed three errors to the host squad’s two.

Brandon Garrett generated two hits and a pair of RBIs for HPU, while DeJohn also finished with two hits. Brown and Matthew Daniel contributed one hit and one RBI apiece, while Brett Quackenbush recorded an extra-base hit.

LeTourneau grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Sean Sellers led off with a home run and Jon Lewis later picked up an RBI on a bases-loaded walk.

The Yellow Jackets drew even in the top of the second as DeJohn singled with one out and Martinez reached on an error. With two outs, Garrett laced a two-RBI single to right field, knotting the score.

Howard Payne gained a 4-2 advantage in the fifth as John Elmore walked with one out, Quackenbush then doubled, Daniel delivered an RBI single and Brown came through with an RBI sacrifice fly.

LeTourneau closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Kyle Jacobs, while an RBI bases-loaded walk by Brandon Applewhite in the seventh tied the game.

Games 2 and 3 begin at 1 p.m. today in Longview.