Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
LONGVIEW, Texas- Tried and tested on a short week, the UMHB baseball team dropped a road series at LeTourneau, but managed to rally for a game three victory, doing enough to remain in fourth place in the ASC standings with an even 12-12 record.
For the first time this season, UMHB played into extra innings…and with that, late into the night. A 3 hour, 50 minute game on Thursday night was won by LeTourneau 4-3 in 13 innings, but at that point, it was anyone’s game, with both squads trying to conserve pitching for Friday’s doubleheader, while still attempting to pull out a critical conference win in the series opener.
Each squad tallied eight hits, with the first of those coming from the Cru in the top of the first. Kaden deBerardinis and Caimyn Holiday led off the contest with consecutive doubles, the second of which, from Holiday down the left field line, scored deBerardinis for an early lead.
Three hits in the fifth produced two runs for the Yellowjackets, their first scoring of the evening, but UMHB put up two of its own in the eighth, for a 3-2 advantage that stood until the bottom of the ninth. The Cru turned a rare double play in the ninth, as deBerardinis center fielder caught the flyball for the first out, firing it home to catcher Warren Sammons who then whipped it to third base, catching Cristian Blue trying to advance from second. That was the positive of that play. The downside was that Hunter Miller tagged and scored from third, tying the score, eventually sending it into extras.
In the bottom of the 13th, after three innings of scoreless play, UMHB recorded two outs, but a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, with Andrew Klingenstein’s base hit one batter later walking it off for LeTourneau.
LeTourneau came back early on Friday afternoon and took the series, winning 3-0. The seven-inning contest saw just one scoring play occur, when Klingenstein swatted a three-run homer in the fourth inning.
But UMHB did not leave Longview without a victory. In the series finale, the Crusaders opened the game with four runs in the top of the first, as Holiday stole home after a base hit, and put UMHB up 1-0. LeTourneau ended up tying the score in the seventh at six apiece, but Malek Bolin came through with yet another home run, his second of the week, in the ninth. That three-run blast provided enough separation as Andrew Acierni closed the win on the mound.
With UMHB now 18-15 overall, here is a closer look at how the series played out:
Storylines throughout the series
Acierni’s debut: After a spectacular first season in Belton that saw him post an ERA of 1.89 with 51 strikeouts, Acierni was poised as UMHB’s ace in the preseason. But an injury just before the season opener had sidelined him up until Friday, when he was called upon for two innings of relief in game three. It was a major positive for the Cru to have him on the mound, and in those two innings, he walked just one batter, while not allowing a hit or a run.
Game three success: Despite losing the series, UMHB emerged victorious in game three, as the hitting took center stage. You would have to go all the way back to a 3-1 loss on Feb. 19 to McMurry to find the last time the Cru dropped the series finale against an ASC opponent. In fact, that is the only game three that UMHB has dropped during this season.
Bolin sets another record: Last weekend, Bolin broke the program’s career home run record, swatting his 27th homer in the series finale against Concordia. On Friday, his go-ahead home run in game three was No. 11 on the year for him, and made him UMHB’s new single-season home run record holder. He now needs just six RBIs to break that single-season record as well.
UMHB hosts Texas Lutheran at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Red Murff Field. TLU is 24-7, with a 13-1 record in SCAC play. The Bulldogs are receiving votes in the D3baseball.com Top 25 poll.