Eastern New Mexico University’s Bryan Moore slides safely into second on a stolen base as Texas A&M-Kingsville shortstop Brandon Wittner applies a late tag in Saturday’s game at Greyhound Field. Photo by Kevin Wilson
PORTALES — Nothing helps a pitcher like an early lead.
Sophomore right-hander Kelly Crain, Eastern New Mexico University’s steadiest hurler all season, benefited from a six-run first and went on to pitch the Greyhounds to an 11-3 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville in Friday’s opener of a Lone Star Conference South Division baseball doubleheader at Greyhound Field.
“I got great run support,” said Crain, who threw a four-hitter to improve to 5-3 with a staff-best 4.86 earned run average. “Their guy was struggling a little bit, and our hitters really stepped up.”
The second game was a complete turnaround. Kingsville erupted for 13 fourth-inning runs and rolled to a 22-0 win behind ace right-hander Garrett Murdy, who improved to 12-1 with a seven-hitter.
Kingsville clinched a tie for the division title with the split and earned the South’s top seed on a tiebreaker over Abilene Christian in next weekend’s LSC tournament.
ENMU (18-27-1, 7-13-1) got only two hits in the first inning in the seven-inning opener, but parlayed three walks and a hit batsman from Kingsville starter Kyle A. Thompson (1-1) into a 6-1 cushion. Mark Wallace and Joey Aguilar delivered two-run singles, while Matt Hinojosa drove in a run with a groundout and Josh Kuchta added a sacrifice fly.
Aguilar added another two-run single in a four-run sixth.
“It was a big win for us,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said. “I knew we were going to have to play well to beat Murdy.”
Leading 3-0 in the nightcap, Kingsville sent 17 batters to the plate in the fourth, including two hits each by Brandon Wittner and Thomas Melvin, in chasing ENMU right-hander Jesse Garcia-Perez (4-5).
Eight players had at least two of the Javs’ 24 hits, and Eastern also contributed seven errors.
“It just wasn’t Jesse’s night, and we didn’t play very well behind him,” Clabaugh said.
ENMU 5, TAMK 3 (Saturday) — Sophomore Josh Kuchta hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the sixth inning Saturday and Eastern New Mexico University wrapped up its baseball season with a 5-3 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville at Greyhound Field.
The Greyhounds (19-27-1, 8-13-1 South) took two of three in the series from the Javelinas after splitting Friday’s doubleheader. Kingsville (29-22, 16-8) fell into a tie for first place with Abilene Christian, which beat West Texas A&M 6-4 on Saturday.
Senior left-hander Ian Thurman-Kelly (4-3) worked eight innings for the win, with Trevor Davis earning his second save of the season despite giving up an unearned run in the ninth.
With the score tied 2-2, Boyd Erickson and Joey Aguilar hit one-out singles for the Hounds in the sixth. Erickson then stole third and scored on a throwing error by TAMK catcher Clint Miller.
With two out, Kuchta hit a line drive that eluded the diving Jon Forte and rolled to the fence in center. Kuchta circled the bases without a play for his first home run at ENMU.
Kuctha led an 11-hit attack for the Hounds, going 3-for-4, while Erickson was 2-for-4.
ENMU 5, Texas A&M-Kingsville 3
TAMK 020 000 001 — 3 6 2
ENMU 100 013 00x — 5 11 3
Jeff Peters, Juan Obregon (8) and Clint Miller; Ian Thurman-Kelly, Trevor Davis (9) and Brett Scherer. W — Thurman-Kelly 4-3. L — Peters (3-4). Sv — Davis (2). DP — ENMU 2. LOB — Texas A&M-Kingsville 8, ENMU 9. 2B — ENMU: Tyler Hayes, Mark Wallace. 3B — Texas A&M-Kingsville: Jon Forte. HR — ENMU: Josh Kuctha (1). T — 2:46. A — 100.
ENMU 11, Texas A&M-Kingsville 3
TAMK 100 020 0 — 3 4 3
ENMU 601 004 x —11 7 3
Kyle A. Thompson, Raul Trevino (2) and Miller; Kelly Crain and Scherer. W — Crain (5-3). L — K.A. Thompson (1-1). DP — Texas A&M-Kingsville 1. LOB — Texas A&M-Kingsville 6, ENMU 8. 2B — ENMU: Bryan Moore. 3B — Texas A&M-Kingsville: Forte. T — 2:02. A — 80.
Texas A&M-Kingsville 22, ENMU 0
TAMK 201 (13)40 002 —22 24 1
ENMU 000 0 00 000 — 0 7 7
Garrett Murdy and Miller; Jesse Garcia-Perez, Antwhan Yazzie (4), Keith Balderaz (6), Boyd Erickson (9) and Scherer. W — Murdy (12-1). L — Garcia-Perez (4-5). DP — Texas A&M-Kingsville 2. LOB — Texas A&M-Kingsville 16, ENMU 8. 2B — Texas A&M-Kingsville: Mike Aguirre, Spike Fogle. 3B — Texas A&M-Kingsville: Forte. T — 3:11. A — 60.