Hounds split with Wildcats

ENMU pitcher Evan Courteau makes a pickoff throw to first during Saturday’s game against Abilene Christian. (PNT photo: Karl Terry)

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Derrick Kennedy delivered a two-out, two-run double and Justin Gee followed with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh, lifting the Eastern New Mexico University baseball team past Abilene Christian 4-0 on Saturday in the first game of a Lone Star Conference South Division doubleheader at Greyhound Field.

The Wildcats, ranked seventh in NCAA Division II, came back for a 6-1 win in the seven-inning nightcap to take three of four in the weekend series.

ENMU junior right-hander Evan Courteau (7-4) pitched around baserunners most of the day, but blanked Abilene Christian on five hits through eight innings. Sophomore closer Keith Balderaz finished, but could not get a school-record ninth save because of the size of the lead.

Abilene Christian (36-12, 10-5 South) managed only six singles in the contest, but left two runners on in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Then Courteau worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by getting pinch-hitter Matt McGuire on strikes.

The Hounds (23-29, 5-11) put runners at the corners with no one out in the seventh against Ben Maynard (6-3), but the Wildcats nearly escaped after an odd double play in which Clayton Young was credited with a sacrifice. Young bunted Jeff Roemer to second, but was thrown out at first and the return throw home caught Brian Green trying to score from third.

Maynard then walked Ryan French and Gilbert Alvarado to load the bases before giving up Kennedy’s opposite-field double inside the right field line. Gee followed with a two-run single to left off reliever Ryan Quidley.

In the second game, Abilene Christian took advantage of three ENMU errors to score three unearned runs off Kelly Crain (5-6), who allowed 10 hits over six innings.

Right fielder Minor Alexander went 2-for-4 for the Wildcats, scoring twice and driving in three runs with singles in the first and sixth and a groundout in the fourth. Left fielder Johnny Zepada finished 3-for-4 with RBI singles in the fourth and sixth.

Jason Kennedy (6-1) allowed two hits over five shutout innings, striking out four. The Hounds scored in the sixth against Brandon Moore on Ryan French’s leadoff ground-rule double and two-out singles by Gee and Tyler Brown.

Moore then hit Green with a pitch to load the bases, but escaped by getting Kennedy on a fly ball to center.

ENMU wraps up its season with a four-game South series next weekend at Texas A&M-Kingsville.