ABILENE, Texas – It took some late inning fireworks, but McMurry University’s baseball team pulled out a 7-6, non-conference victory over Cameron University at Walt Driggers Field. The win improved the War Hawks to 22-24 overall, while the Aggies fell to 17-27 in 2014.
With one out in the McMurry half of the ninth, Ben Douglas crushed a ball off the rightfield fence on an offering from CU’s Brent Hendy, the Aggies’ fourth pitcher of the game. Hendy then intentionally walked Eric Moritz to set up the force. With the tying run 90-feet away, Cameron head coach Todd Holland summoned ace reliever Tobin Mateychick to the mound to face McM’s Eric Preuss.
On Mateychick’s first pitch, Preuss looped a ball above shortstop. War Hawk fans had to hold their collective breath as CU’s 6’6” shortstop Codey McElroy leaped for the ball. Only when the McMurry faithful saw Preuss’ hit safely elude McElroy’s out-stretched glove and nestle itself in the outfield grass, could the celebration begin, as Douglas trotted home with the game winner.
But with the topsy-turvy course the previous eight innings took, the ninth frame fit right in.
McM starter Trevor Ragsdale struggled, yet did not allow the Aggies a run. Ragsdale gave up just two hits in his five innings of work, but walked a total of nine CU batters. To put that into perspective, entering the game, Ragsdale had walked just 10 all season in 22 2/3 innings pitched.
Ben Bates game on in relief of Ragsdale and was greeted rudely by the Cameron hitters. Bates gave up one run in the sixth, as the War Hawks clung to a 3-1 lead.
McMurry added two runs in the bottom of the sixth for a little breathing room. Ben Douglas scored on Greg Koll’s ground out fielder’s choice. With runners at the corners, Patrick Adams – who had come on to play second after Jeremy Ruiz was hit by a pitch – laid down a perfect bunt up the third base line that plated Preuss to make it 5-1.
The top of the seventh proved disastrous for McMurry as Bates was unable to record an out. After a fielding error by Preuss at third allowed the leadoff batter to reach second, Bates gave up three-consecutive hits and, when the dust had settled , the Aggies would score five runs to take the 6-5 advantage. Four runs – two unearned – were charged to Bates and the other to John Cortez (also unearned).
In the bottom of the eight, McMurry had runners on second and third against CU reliever Josh Nielson. Koll received a one-out walk and Adams singled past short. They moved up on Kyle Sargent’s ground out.
With Christian Simmons at the plate, Nielson uncorked a wild pitch and Koll scurried home, sliding under the tag with the tying run, 6-6.
Meanwhile, Mitch Labbie had come on to pitch hitless eighth and ninth innings for McMurry, restoring order. Labbie (5-3) walked one and struck out two, earning the victory after the War Hawks’ heroics in the ninth.
Moritz and Preuss each went 2-for-4 in the game. Preuss scored twice and each had an RBI. Moritz belted his second homerun of the year to leadoff the fourth inning.
Koll finished with three RBI, as well. Adams was the only other War Hawk with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 off the McM bench.