Above image by CJ Halloran/@cjhall_photography
BELTON, Texas- The offense began clicking and never stopped on Tuesday night as the UMHB baseball team rolled over Southwestern 17-7 in a non-conference midweek game.
The Crusaders, coming off a weekend series at UT Dallas, which they lost 2-1, needed a momentum boost with Sul Ross State coming to Belton for a critical three-game set Thursday and Friday.
The victory moved UMHB to 9-10 on the year, while the Pirates of Southwestern, members of the SCAC conference, dropped to 7-11.
It took little time for UMHB to take a 1-0 lead, as first baseman Malek Bolin knocked a single into center field. Though he was caught trying to stretch the base hit into a double for the final out of the inning, shortstop Caimyn Holiday managed to cross the plate from second prior to the out.
Southwestern quickly responded with three runs of its own off UMHB starter Zack Honey in the top of the second, highlighted by a hard-hit double to left from second baseman Trent Raschke that scored two.
The scoring was not done in the second, though, as UMHB tallied two runs of its own to tie the score.
The true offensive outburst that sealed the win for the Cru came in the following frame, in which Southwestern was forced to change pitchers on three occasions as UMHB brought 12 batters to the plate. Two costly errors on the Pirates allowed a couple of runs to score, and second baseman Blake Harmon swatted a long two-run homer to extend the lead to 9-3. By the time Southwestern finally tallied three outs, the Cru had pushed seven runs across the plate on six hits.
Southwestern tried to play catch-up all evening, but UMHB never let up. The Cru tacked on a trio of runs in the fourth, two more in the sixth and a couple in the seventh to run-rule the Pirates after seven innings. The game-ending play was actually a walk drawn by center fielder Dawson Shibley with the bases loaded as designated hitter Hunter Jones scored UMHB’s 17th run on the night.
Honey made it through just three innings of work, allowing six hits, three earned runs, with two strikeouts, and reliever Alex Palczewski was not much better through four innings on the hill. Palczewski gave up six hits, and four earned runs, but picked up his first victory over the season, thanks to UMHB’s strong performance at the plate.
The one encouraging stat from UMHB’s pitchers was the fact that neither Honey or Palczewski walked a single batter in the midweek victory. That level of control is critical when facing an opponent such as Sul Ross, who enters the series hitting .341 as a team.
Harmon was confident at the plate against the Pirates, and went 2-for-2 with three runs scored, including UMHB’s only home run of the night. In fact, in addition to Harmon, Holiday, Bolin, Jones and Mateo Calle all posted multi-hit performances.
A Thursday doubleheader opens the conference series against the Lobos, with the first pitch of game one set for 4 p.m. CT and game two to played at 7 p.m. CT. Jeb Zolman is expected to start on the mound for the Cru in game one.