No. 8 Concordia flexes muscles with weekend sweep of Yellow Jackets baseball

Derrick Stuckly Brownwood Bulletin derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com
HPU designated hitter Brett Quackenbush (left) attempts to beat out a throw to Concordia first baseman Connor Bertsch (26) during the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Don Shepard Park.

The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets entered the weekend looking to tighten their grip on a potential American Southwest Conference tournament berth, and gain ground on league front-runner Concordia in the process.

By the time their three-game series against the No. 8 Tornados concluded Saturday, however, the Yellow Jackets had slipped three games further behind the ASC leader.

On the heels of Friday’s 15-0 victory, Concordia completed a weekend sweep of the Yellow Jackets by capturing both games of a Saturday doubleheader, 7-1 and 9-3, at Don Shepard Park.

Despite the sweep, the Yellow Jackets (12-19, 7-16) — whose home record fell to 6-11 — maintained their three-game hold on the eighth seed in the ASC, as ninth-place East Texas Baptist (14-15, 5-12) was swept by Sul Ross over the weekend.

The top eight teams in the regular season advance to double-elimination ASC championship tournament hosted by Concordia May 6-9.

The Yellow Jackets have six ASC games remaining — three at UT-Tyler April 24-25 and three at home against Sul Ross May 1-2.

In Saturday’s 7-1 loss, both teams pushed across a first-inning run, but Concordia (24-6, 18-2) added one more in the second, two in the fifth and three in the seventh inning.

The Yellow Jackets were limited to four hits and committed a pair of errors, while Concordia collected 10 hits with one miscue.

HPU’s run scored when Brandon Garrett, who reached on a leadoff single, came home as Matthew Daniel reached base on a two-out throwing error.

Garrett recorded half of the Yellow Jackets’ hits, while Brett Quackenbush and Jake Sadler also singled.

Jacob Spivey took the loss for HPU, allowing four runs — three earned — on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks over five innings.

Cole Calder hit a two-run home run for Concordia, while Race Mellman added two hits and a pair of RBIs and Adam Ortega chipped in three hits.

Cameron Cox pitched a complete game for Concordia with six strikeouts and three walks.

In the 9-3 loss, HPU led 2-1 after one inning. Concordia drew even in the third inning, then regained control with a six-run sixth.

The Yellow Jackets’ two runs in the first scored when Connor Roberts reached on a two-out error, allowing Garrett, who singled, and Quackenbush, who walked, to come home.

Roberts also drove home Quackenbush with a two-out RBI single in the eighth.

Garrett again led Howard Payne with two hits, while Sadler added one as the Yellow Jackets finished with five.

Dustin Kelver took the loss as he allowed seven runs — six earned — on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks in four innings.

Connor Bertsch homered and drove in three for Concordia while Calder doubled and knocked in two.