Late ENMU rally dies against Chaps

Staff report

PORTALES — It didn’t take long for Lubbock Christian, ranked 12th in NCAA Division II, to jump in front on Tuesday. It took most of the game for Eastern New Mexico University to catch up — almost.

Down 4-0 after a grand slam by LCU’s Joel Lutz before anybody had been retired and 7-0 in the third, the Greyhounds nearly stole one from the Chaparrals, only to see a ninth-inning rally cut short in an 8-7 setback at Greyhound Field.

The Greyhounds (19-17) trimmed their deficit with a four-run third, then didn’t score again until senior second baseman Colton Sims hit a two-run, bases-loaded double with no one out in the bottom of the ninth off left-handed closer Glen Warrick, making it 8-6.

Right-hander Dalton Silva got a strikeout before giving up a run on a groundout. ENMU’s Bryan Pinocci then walked and stole second, putting the winning runs in scoring position, but Silva induced a fly ball to right from catcher Steven Moore to nail down his third save.

Lutz hit his 10th homer of the season after starter Jackson Gaskins (1-2) issued three consecutive walks to start the game. Designated hitter Wigberto Nevarez chased Gaskins with a single and eventually scored on Brett Kauten’s two-out single to right.

LCU (27-9) added run-scoring singles by Wade Stramp and Tanner Rainey in the third, but managed only two hits — both in the sixth, when the Chaps got their final run — the rest of the way.

ENMU, which had its four-game winning streak snapped, pulled to 7-4 in the third, but left the bases loaded and didn’t do much against relievers Jarret Porter and Sam Fry through the next five innings.

Fry, though, gave up a single and two walks to start the ninth and was lifted for Warrick, who has five saves this season. Sims hit an opposite-field double down the right-field line to make it 8-6 before Silva relieved and managed to get the side out, stranding Sims with the tying run at third.

The teams combined to use 12 pitchers in the midweek game, seven by ENMU. Porter (3-2) pitched three hitless innings in relief of starter Ryan Taylor, walking one and striking out four, to earn the win.