AUSTIN, Texas – McMurry University pushed St. Edward’s University – the nation’s No. 7-ranked team in NCAA Division II – to the brink, before finally falling, 3-2, in 11 innings at Lucian-Hamilton Stadium. The War Hawks finished the regular season 23-26 overall, 13-16 in the Heartland Conference, and will next play in the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region championships beginning next Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
McM actually out-hit the host Hilltoppers, 14-9, but stranded a total of 12 men on base. It was the most hits that SEU has allowed an opponent this season in amassing a 36-13 overall record.
After SEU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third, McMurry tied it in the top of the fifth. With one out, catcher Greg Koll slapped a single up the middle. That was followed by a Kyle Sargent single to center. Patrick Adams grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Sargent, but the relay to first in an attempt to get the double play was misplayed, allowing Koll to score from third base, 1-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hilltoppers collected an unearned run. An error on a failed pickoff attempt by the War Hawks positioned the run that made it 2-1. But McMurry came right back a half-inning later.
Koll led off the frame with a double and went to third on Sargent’s ground out. A ground out to short failed to advance Koll on the second out. Christian Simmons then cracked a single to right, easily scoring Koll and once again knotting the game, 2-2.
It would be the last scoring either team would do until the 11th inning, but not for lack of trying on the War Hawks’ part. McMurry had runners in scoring position in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings, but could not convert any of them.
In the bottom of the eight, SEU looked like it might tally the go-ahead runs and keep the contest from going into extra innings. The Hilltoppers loaded the bases with two out and Dylan Watts at the plate. Watts slammed a line drive that looked like it was headed into right-center field, but McM secondbaseman Patrick Adams made an ESPN-worthy diving catch to snare the ball and kill the SEU rally.
In the 11th, the Hilltoppers had runners at the corners with one out, with Ryan Dolezal facing McM’s Jesus Vasquez (0-1), the War Hawks’ fourth pitcher of the game. Dolezal laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that drove home the game winner.
McMurry starter Caleb Gonzales went a strong six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits. Gonzales struck out two and walked one.
Reliever Jacob Foitek (1 2/3 IP) and John Cortez (1 1/3 IP) did not allow a run. Each permitted just one base hit.
McMurry’s Nos. 1-5 batters – Adams (2-6), Simmons (2-5), Zack Hagan (1-5), Ben Douglas (3-4) and Eric Moritz (3-5) – were responsible for 11 of the 14 McM hits. Koll (2-5) also had a multi-hit game and scored both of McMurry’s runs.