ABILENE - Tuesday's clash between former regional rivals Abilene Christian and Texas-Permian Basin ended in an unexpected fashion as the Wildcats prevailed, 4-3, on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch with two
outs in the ninth.
Facing Brad Paramapoonya (7-2), the ace of the Falcons' staff who came into tonight's game with seven wins, four saves, and a 2.12 ERA, ACU started the decisive frame with Russell Crippen's career-high fourth base hit. A sacrifice bunt from Tyler Eager followed and then an intentional walk to Brandon Grudzielanek.
Third baseman Emil Litterer flew out to shallow right for the second out, but in the No. 6 spot, pinch hitter Heath Beasley drew a huge walk to load the bases after being down in the count 1-2. That quality at-bat brought Hall to the plate. He took ball one outside, and then took one for the team as Paramapoonya's 1-0 delivery hit him in the back of the right leg. The HBP brought home Crippen, who scored a game-high three runs.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and lifted ACU's season record to 16-25, while the Falcons fell to 23-24.
The win also gave reliever Kevin Sheets his fourth win of the spring. Sheets was the Wildcats fifth pitcher of the night following starter Brandon Lambright (2.0 innings), Ladgie Zotkya (4.0), Austin Lambright (0.2) and Nick Palacios (1.1). Sheets pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout and the four releivers preceeding him combined for 6.0 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, five of those by Zotkya.
Permian Basin started the game ahead 2-0 as the first four batters all reached base. Andrew Grifol scored on a RBI single to left for the game's first run and Neil Madsen made it 2-0, coming home on Daniel Andrade's fly ball to right.
ACU countered with a run in the first as Crippen, who doubled, scored on a Eager's single through the left side, and took a short-lived 3-2 lead in the second after Crippen and Eager smacked consecutive extra-base hits with two outs following a walk to No. 9 hitter Connor Messman.
Eager finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI.
UTPB tied the game in its half of the third. Madsen and Trey Cochran reached on a walk and single before executing a double steal. Madsen then scored from third on a ground ball to shortstop.
The Falcons used eight pitchers tonight, and at one point, retired 10 consecutive Wildcats from the third to sixth innings.
The Wildcats return to action Friday for the start of a three-game series against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Game times are Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.