ABILENE, Texas – For the third-straight game, McMurry University’s baseball team dropped a close decision to St. Mary’s University – ranked No. 3 in the nation for NCAA II – falling by a 7-5 score at Walt Driggers Field.
The series sweep allowed the Rattlers to improve to 17-4 overall and 5-2 in the Heartland Conference. The War Hawks slipped to 5-12 and 3-5 in league play.
SMU scored first by manufacturing a run in the top of the first inning. The Rattlers took advantage of a leadoff walk by McM starter Ben Bates to jump ahead, 1-0.
But McMurry came right back to knot matters at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. Kyle Sargent led off with a single was sacrificed to second and went to third on a ground out. With two down, Jeremy Ruiz delivered an RBI single to right field.
The Rattlers were leading 4-1 after 3 ½ innings, but McM scratched out single runs in the fourth and fifth frames. In the fourth, Zack Hagan opened with a single and, three batters later, scored on Blake Smith’s ground out to second.
In the fifth, a two out bunt single by Sargent paid off when he eventually scored on Hagan’s single up the middle, making it 4-3.
The War Hawks had the potential tying runs on base in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. McM’s inability to parlay any of the baserunners into runs would prove costly, as SMU plated three men in the top of the ninth to break open the game, 7-3.
But the War Hawks refused to yield. Christian Simmons slapped a one-out single. Catcher Greg Koll then followed with his first home run of the season, a towering blast to left field. That made it the 7-5 final score, after McM’s last two batters were retired.
McMurry actually out-hit the Rattlers in the game, 13-9. No less than six War Hawks had multi-hit games: Sargent (2-4); Hagan (2-4); Ruiz (2-4); A.J. Dupre (2-3); Simmons (2-4), and; Koll (2-4). Sargent scored twice from his leadoff role, while Hagan, Ruiz and Smith each drove in a run, as well.
Bates (0-2) went 3 2/3 innings and was charged with four earned runs in picking up the loss. He struck out two Rattlers, but walked five. Mitch Labbie was the second f four McM pitchers, following Bates and going.
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