CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU pitcher Justin Cotten delivers to a Tarleton State batter during Saturday’s opener at Greyhound Field.
PORTALES — Garrett Cook scored the winning run from second in the bottom of the ninth on an infield hit by pinch-hitter Chris Eaton and shortstop Charlie Ulbricht’s throwing error on the play, giving Eastern New Mexico University a 6-5 Lone Star Conference South Division victory over Tarleton State at Greyhound Field.
Texans junior Jake Sowell pitched four perfect innings in the seven-inning opener and Tarleton held on for a 2-1 win. The split gives the Greyhounds a 3-1 series win after Friday’s doubleheader sweep.
With one out in the ninth inning of the nightcap, junior shortstop Kevin Thompson singled up the middle. Cook’s grounder forced Thompson at second, but Luis Quinones drew a walk to set the stage for Eaton’s winning hit.
ENMU (8-6, 8-4 LSC) erased a 4-1 deficit with a three-run sixth, but the Texans (6-10, 3-9) regained the lead in the eighth with an unearned run. The Hounds tied it in the bottom half when Sean Cruce’s two-out, bases-loaded infield hit scored pinch-runner Mike Medina.
Jerry Manning (2-0), the third ENMU pitcher, worked the final two innings to pick up the win. First baseman Mitch Wolfe led a 13-hit Hounds attack with 3-for-4.
In the opener, Sowell (1-0) retired 10 of the first 12 hitters on groundballs before giving up a leadoff single to Wolfe in the fifth. Tarleton manufactured single runs in the fourth and fifth off ENMU left-hander Tyler Vance (2-1), scoring on a groundout and a sacrifice fly, and it would prove to be enough.
Sowell carried a two-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh before Cook led off with a walk and moved to third on two infield outs. Pinch-hitter Ethan Wagner was hit by a pitch and Quinones followed with an RBI single to left-center, but Nathan Lewis came on and earned his second save by retiring catcher Ryan Pruitt on a grounder to second with runners at the corners.
Vance allowed four hits in five innings. Justin Cotten worked the final two frames, giving up one hit.
ENMU continues its nine-game homestand with a 6 p.m. non-league tilt against New Mexico Highlands on Tuesday and LSC doubleheaders against Texas A&M-Kingsville at 2 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.