Walks costly for Hounds at Highlands

CNJ staff

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Less than 24 hours after committing 10 errors in a game, the Eastern New Mexico University baseball team turned in an errorless performance Wednesday afternoon against New Mexico Highlands.

Unfortunately for the Greyhounds, freshman pitchers Josh Stephenson and Keith Balderaz struggled with control — 10 walks, three hit batsmen and two wild pitches over six innings — as ENMU absorbed an 8-6 loss at the hands of the Cowboys.

On Tuesday night, the 10 errors contributed to a 17-12 setback against Wayland Baptist at Greyhound Field.

Stephenson (0-2) left Wednesday’s game after giving up two walks and a single to start the Highlands third. Balderaz escaped that inning with only one run scoring (on a walk), but surrendered five runs on four hits, three walks and a hit batsman in the fourth as NMHU (15-16) opened a 7-1 cushion.

Eastern (14-20) closed to 8-6 with a three-run seventh, capped by Matt Elliott’s two-run single, and Tyler Hayes’ run-scoring single in the eighth.

The Hounds loaded the bases in the ninth on two walks and an error. But Brad Barton, the Cowboys’ sixth pitcher, turned Elliott’s line drive into a double play and struck out Justin Gee to earn his first save.

Left fielder Darren Wheat led Highlands’ 10-hit attack, going 3-for-3 from the leadoff position and scoring a pair of runs. Shortstop Matt Hinojosa went 3-for-3 and Elliott drove in three runs for Eastern, which had nine hits.

Center fielder Joey Aguilar had Eastern’s only extra base hit, a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. It was his third of the season.

NM Highlands 8, ENMU 6
ENMU 001 010 310 — 6 9 0
Highlands 101 501 00x — 8 10 3

Josh Stephenson, Keith Balderaz (3), Josh Kuchta (7), Kelly Crain (8) and Tyler Hayes; Daniel Herlehy, Matt Sotebeer (4), Carlos Aguilar Jr. (7), Andrew Peterson (8), Rudy Sierra (9), Brad Barton (9) and Lucas Hastings. W — Sotobeer (2-0). L — Stephenson (0-2). Sv — Barton (1). DP — ENMU 2, New Mexico Highlands 2. LOB — ENMU 6, New Mexico Highlands 11. 2B — New Mexico Highlands: Nolan Phillips, Brian Fryer, Cameron Shick, Hastings. HR — ENMU: Joey Aguilar (3). T — 2:40. A — 82.