Crain, Swinconos pitch Hounds to home sweep

Greyhound third baseman Brett Scherer blocks the base and applies the tag on Wes Bamburg in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Greyhound Field. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — If it were this easy all the time, baseball wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Junior right-hander Kelly Crain outpitched Southwestern Oklahoma ace Gunner Poff in the opener, then junior left-hander David Swinconos rode a strong offensive barrage from his teammates in the nightcap as the Greyhounds posted a 3-1, 10-0 sweep of the Bulldogs on Saturday at Greyhound Field.

The teams complete their four-game Lone Star Conference crossover series with a 1 p.m. twin bill today.

Originally, it was thought the second-game win was the 400th for Hounds coach Phil Clabaugh in his 18-year career, including four years at Western New Mexico before he came to ENMU. But ENMU sports information director Robert McKinney said later that he is actually still one short.

Nonetheless, his pitchers made life relatively easy for the veteran skipper on Saturday.

“We pitched good,” Clabaugh said. “In the first game, I thought their lefty (Poff) did a great job, but we outbattled them.

“The second game we just got off in the first inning, and the kids played the way they’re capable of playing.”

Senior second baseman Bryan Moore scored two runs and drove in the other in the opener for ENMU (10-12), and Crain (3-4) made it stand up with a five-hit, 10-strikeout performance for his first complete game of the season.

The 10 strikeouts was a career high for Crain.

“When you get two pitching performances like that, it makes it so much easier,” said Moore, who went 4-for-7 in the two games to raise his average to .389. “I can’t say enough about Kelly Crain and David Swinconos, the way they pitched.

“We needed these wins, coming off a tough weekend (where ENMU was swept in four games at Southeastern Oklahoma). Now we’ve got to come out ready to play tomorrow.”

Moore singled off Poff (4-1) in the first inning of the opener, advanced to third on a sacrifice and a groundout and scored on the back end of a double steal with Mark Wallace, who reached on a walk. In the third, Micah Bernhardt hit a leadoff triple to center and scored on Moore’s groundout.

Southwestern (8-14) got its only run in the fourth, but had two runners thrown out on the bases in the inning to prevent further damage. Moore then led off the sixth with an opposite-field single to left and eventually scored on Wallace’s sacrifice fly.

ENMU made short work of the Bulldogs in the second game, jumping on right-hander Colby Tackett (0-1) for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first. Nine players scored and eight had an RBI for the Hounds in the contest.
Meantime, Swinconos (2-0) threw his first career shutout and complete game with a two-hitter in just his third start of the season and the fifth of his career.

“It’s easy when your teammates put up that many runs,” Swinconos said. “With a big lead, you don’t have to worry so much about hitting exact spots. You have some room for error.”

Moore, Kennedy and Scherer each had a pair of hits for Eastern. Swinconos, who hadn’t had a strikeout in 13 2/3 innings this season coming in, fanned three Bulldogs and gave up only doubles to Southwestern catcher Matt Machinski in the fourth and seventh innings.

Senior Trevor Davis (4-3) is scheduled to start today’s opener for ENMU, with senior Brett Scherer (1-3) going in the nightcap.

“We have to come back and play like this again tomorrow,” Swinconos said. “We’ll try to get back to .500 and work from there.”