Buffs even series by sweeping Hounds

Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — For a team that gave up 44 runs in a doubleheader one day earlier, the West Texas A&M baseball team managed to turn things around dramatically on Saturday.

WT parlayed a close call followed by consecutive ENMU errors on bunts into seven unearned runs in the 10th inning for a 9-2 win in the opener of the Lone Star Conference South Division twin bill at Greyhound Field. The Buffaloes then cranked out 15 hits in a 12-5 second-game win to gain a series split.

One day after the teams combined for 66 runs in a sweep for ENMU (21-22, 3-5 South), WT’s Justin Rodriguez and the Greyhounds’ Evan Courteau were locked in a pitching duel in the opener.

ENMU closer Keith Balderaz (3-1) survived a leadoff single to get through the ninth, but the ship unraveled after a close call went the Buffs’ way on Justin Graham’s leadoff grounder in the 10th.

Balderaz misplayed Brian Schupp’s sacrifice for an error, then his throw on Brady Ribinskas’ sacrifice eluded first baseman Jeff Roemer for an error and allowed Graham to score.

Consecutive two-out RBI singles by Gabe Gonzales, Cody Dean, Graham and Schupp capped off the rally.

Rodriguez worked eight strong innings, allowing only six hits and two runs, one earned. Patrick Wallis (4-1) finished with two perfect innings, striking out four.

Courteau was also strong, pitching seven innings and allowing five hits and two runs. Charlie Ward worked a perfect eighth before turning the game over to Balderaz.

With the score tied 1-1 in the nightcap, the Buffs (20-20, 5-3) opened the third against David Swinconos (0-4) with a double by Gonzales, triples by Dean and Graham and a single by Schupp and never looked back.

The Hounds closed to 7-4 with a three-run fifth, two scoring on Gilbert Alvarado’s single to left-center and another on Kelton Hayes’ sacrifice fly. But WT tacked on two more runs in the sixth and three in the seventh.

Graham went 4-for-4 in the second game and was 7-for-10 in the doubleheader. Dean had three hits and scored four times in the nightcap, and finished the twin bill 5-for-11.

ENMU, meantime, which had 43 hits in Friday’s 33-14 and 11-8 victories, was limited to six hits in each game on Saturday.