Above image of Caimyn Holiday provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
BELTON, Texas- The UMHB baseball team sent the ball over the wall four times in the first three innings of Friday’s series finale against Sul Ross State, en route to a 13-6 victory, and the Cru’s first conference series win of the season.
The victory moves UMHB to .500 on the season, with an 11-11 overall record. The Cru had split Thursday’s doubleheader against the Lobos, and took the series two games to one, advancing to 4-8 in ASC play. SRSU dropped to 6-15 overall and 3-12 in conference action.
The UMHB bats were ready to go as the contest got underway, and the Cru held nothing back, as leadoff hitter Kaden deBerardinis swatted a solo homer to deep right field on SRSU starter Kyle Williams’ first pitch of the game. The left-handed hitter pulled what appeared to be a curveball and the instant he made contact, both dugouts knew the ball was headed over the ball.
After Williams induced two quick outs, both to the shortstop Isaac Aleman, first baseman Malek Bolin showed why he was hitting in the “cleanup” spot, sending Williams’ first pitch of the at-bat over the left field wall. Two singles and a walk followed, the second of those base hits scoring catcher Hunter McQuary to cap UMHB’s three-run first inning.
But UMHB starter Russell Vadala had just as rough of a start, as he allowed four hits, one of which was a solo home run, and four earned runs in the second inning. The Lobos took the lead, 4-3, and appeared to be regaining some of the momentum the Cru had generated in the first, putting together a three-up, three-down inning the bottom of the frame.
That is when the tide turned, as UMHB plated six third-inning runs after Zach Carroll posted a three-up, three-down top of the third.
Bolin launched his second homer of the day in the second at-bat of the inning, also scoring Jeb Zolman who reached on an error. In fact, five batters and a pitching change occurred before SRSU even tallied an out, as Hunter Jones went deep with runners on first and second for the Cru’s third home run of the day. Jones’ three-run long ball made the score 8-4 in favor of the Cru and also ended reliever Isaac Gallego’s day on the mound.
An additional run came across as third baseman Rhett Grosz, who had walked earlier in the inning, hurdled SRSU catcher Jett Hartley as he stole home. Racing from first was deBerardinis, who induced a throw to second, and gave Grosz ample time to score. The throw back to Hartley from second was low, but ahead of Grosz. However, Grosz did not abandon the play, and found a way to score.
The Cru tacked on four additional runs and the Lobos added in the next six innings, but the third inning is what sealed UMHB’s key win.
Carroll picked up the win in 2.1 innings of work, and moved to 2-0 on the season. He allowed one earned run and two hits.
In game one Thursday, SRSU countered two UMHB first-inning runs to take a 9-4 victory behind a four-run ninth. The Cru tallied just three hits in that contest, but came back in game two ready to go.
The second contest spanned just seven innings, the typical number for ASC doubleheaders. Game one was tied after seven, so the game went into extra innings, and ended in the ninth.
After battling back and forth and exchanging blows, shortstop Caimyn Holiday stepped to the plate with one out, and center fielder Dawson Shibley on second. The Selma, Texas native displayed an excellent sense of plate discipline, working the count to 2-1 before driving an inside pitch down the left field line that barely stayed fair. The double scored Shibley as the Cru earned a 5-4 walk-off win.
The entire UMHB dugout sprinted onto the infield, meeting Holiday just past second as the crowd rose to its feet with loud cheers.
The walk-off win provided the Cru with momentum heading into Friday’s series finale, as the tide seems to be turning for what had been a consistent losing program. Under second year head coach Mike Stawski, the team has already reached the highest number of wins in a season in the previous three years (11), with 12 ASC games remaining on the schedule and three additional midweek non-conference games.
UMHB faces Trinity (TX), a member of the SCAC conference, on Tuesday in San Antonio. The Tigers are 16-1 on the season and ranked No. 3 in the country by D3baseball.com.