Yellow Jackets split two with LeTourneau, claim series victory

Derrick Stuckly Brownwood Bulletin

LONGVIEW — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets split a Friday doubleheader with LeTourneau to earn a 2-1 series victory in American Southwest Conference baseball action, rebounding from last weekend’s sweep at home at the hands of East Texas Baptist.

On the heels of a 5-4 victory in Thursday night’s series opener, the Yellow Jackets tallied a 1-0 win in Friday’s first game before LeTourneau avoided the sweep with a 6-5 triumph in the nightcap.

In Friday’s opener, Jacob Spivey and Kyle Ramon combined to pitch a one-hitter. Spivey worked 6.1 innings, surrendering only a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, while striking out two and walking three to notch the victory. Ramon recorded the final two outs, with one on a strikeout, to earn the save.

The Yellow Jackets (12-15, 7-13), who were limited to six hits by LeTourneau (10-9, 8-6) pitcher Cody Whitley, tallied the only run in the top of the fifth inning. Martinez led off with a single to left field, then advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Walker Dailey. With two outs, John Elmore singled to left field, allowing Martinez to score from second base.

Brandon Garrett, Dustin DeJohn, Jake Sadler and Dailey also collected hits for HPU, while Connor Roberts drew a walk.

In the nightcap, HPU fell behind 3-1 before rallying to pull even in the top of the fifth inning. LeTourneau responded with single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings to reclaim a 6-3 edge, while the Yellow Jackets’ comeback came up a run short in the top of the ninth.

During the HPU ninth, Sadler singled and Garrett doubled to start the inning. Following a strikeout, Jacob Cowling plated Sadler with a sacrifice fly. Cody Brown then singled up the middle with two outs to plate Garrett. With a runner at first and DeJohn at the plate as the go-ahead run, a ground out to second ended the contest.

Howard Payne drew even at 3 in the top of the fifth as Cody Cain reached on an infield single and Dailey followed with a bunt base hit. With one down and runners at second and third, an RBI ground out by Quackenbush scored Cain. Cowling then singled up the middle to score Dailey.

Quackenbush put the Yellow Jackets on the board just two batters into the game, launching a solo home run to right field. But LeTourneau answered with three runs in the bottom of the second and never trailed again.

The Yellow Jackets finished with 11 hits — two each by Brown and Cain and one apiece by Garrett, Quackenbush, Cowling, Roberts, Elmore, Dailey and Sadler. Cowling and Quackenbush each collected a pair of RBIs, while Brown added one as well.

On the mound, Shawn Brody took the loss, working 5.1 innings of relief and allowing two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Zach Moseley started and gave up three runs — one earned — on two hits with one strikeout and two walks. Chad Anders and Ramon combined for an inning of relief, yielding one run on two hits with one strikeout.

The top eight seeds in the ASC advance to the double elimination conference championship tournament May 6-9 at Concordia in Austin. Howard Payne is currently in seventh place with nine conference games remaining.

The Yellow Jackets will host future ASC foe McMurry at 3 p.m. Tuesday, then welcome Concordia for three conference games Friday and Saturday, April 10.