Photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
The Lead (from Clarksville, Arkansas): On the longest road trip of the season, the UMHB baseball team came away without a series win, dropping the final two games of the weekend series to Ozarks after taking a 7-6 victory in Friday’s game one. The focus now shifts to the final ASC series of the series this coming weekend.
Pivotal points of the series:
- The bats came out on fire in game one for both sides, as UMHB scored three runs in the first inning–all with two outs–before Ozarks swatted back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the inning. A four-run fifth, highlighted by Rhett Grosz’s three-run homer over the wall in right-center field, regained the lead for the Cru, who had fallen behind 5-3.
- Nicklas Fenner came up with perhaps the biggest strikeout of the weekend, when he fanned Brooks Boshers with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh–and final–inning of game one. With the bases loaded, two outs, and Ozarks down one, Fenner fought back in what was a long inning, striking out Boshers looking on a good pitch towards the middle of the plate.
- Three four-run innings from the Eagles of Ozarks in game two did the Cru in, as the bats just could not keep up with the hosts’ offensive prowess. Ozarks’ 21 hits in the 14-8 win were the most allowed by the UMHB pitching staff in a game this season.
- Hayden Guerin led off the second game of Friday’s doubleheader with a home run, his second of the year, and Elijah Rodriguez singled up the middle in the second inning, giving the Cru a 2-0 lead. Those were the main offensive highlights before Ozarks scored the game’s next 10 runs. UMHB did rally with five runs over the final three innings, but was unable to close the gap.
- Playing in a hitter’s park, the high-scoring contests continued in Saturday’s series finale, as UMHB put eight runs on the board in the first four innings of play. Guerin and Grosz each homered for the second time on the weekend, both in the fourth inning as Grosz’s solo shot put the Cru in front, 8-2.
- An eight-run fifth put Ozarks right back in the fight, as the Eagles tallied eight hits, along with a UMHB error, in an breakout inning. Brice Cagle scored twice in the inning, leading off the frame with a base hit, and giving the Eagles their final scoring play of the inning too, on a two-run homer that gave them a 10-8 advantage.
- Hayden Guerin’s ninth-inning single drove Tyler Betts home for the Cru, knotting the score at 12 apiece, and forcing it into extra innings after Fenner closed the ninth with just one hit allowed.
- Cagle came up big for Ozarks oncemore in the 11th, as he provided the walk-off double to left field that scored Boshers from second. The Eagles walked it off in memorable fashion, winning back-to-back games for the first time in 2023.
Looking ahead: UMHB hosts Trinity (TX) in the final game of non-conference play on April 25 in Belton, before welcoming Sul Ross State to Red Murff Field for the final three games of the regular season on April 28-29. The Lobos of SRSU, under first-year head coach Ely Gallego, are 15-18, 11-13 in league play.
ASC Tournament outlook: Only the top six teams qualify for the ASC Tournament. UMHB is currently in ninth, and trailing LeTourneau by three games. Further evaluation of the standings and ASC tie-break policy reveals that UMHB went 1-2 against LeTourneau this season, giving LETU the advantage in the tiebreaker if the Cru and Yellowjackets ended up being tied at the end of the regular season. A sweep over Sul Ross State combined with an ETBU sweep of Ozarks and a UTD sweep of LETU would create a three-way tie for sixth place. SRSU swept LETU early in the season, so in the event that UMHB, SRSU, and LETU ended up at 11-16 in the ASC, SRSU would claim the final ASC Tournament spot.
UMHB’s series stat leaders: Hayden Guerin (5-for-10, 5 runs scored, 5 RBIs, 3 HR), Rhett Grosz (6-for-16, 5 runs scored, 5 RBIs, 2 HR), Hunter Jones (6-for-12, 4 runs scored, 2 RBIs)