ABILENE, Texas – For the third time in two days, McMurry University and nationally-ranked Lubbock Christian University played a one-run ball game, with McM coming out on the short end of a 4-3 score in the Heartland Conference series’ rubber game at Walt Driggers Field.
While the War Hawks dropped two-of-three to the Chaps, what a difference a year has made for head coach John Byington’s squad. Last year, McMurry also dropped two-of-three to LCU, with a 29-run differential in the two losses. This year, the run difference between the teams in the losses was just two runs and – with another base hit here or there – McM might have had a chance for a series sweep instead.
The Chaps pushed across a first inning run and another in the top of the fifth against McM starter Ben Bates (1-3), taking a 2-0 lead before the War Hawks could respond. In the bottom of the fifth, catcher Greg Koll singled to left and advanced to second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Koll moved over to third on a ground out to second and came home on a sacrifice fly from Christian Simmons to make it 2-1.
LCU came right back in the top of the sixth and added a pair of runs for a 4-1 lead.
But McMurry refused to roll over and, in the bottom of the sixth, got one of the runs back. A one out double by Ben Douglas got things going. After a ground out by Eric Moritz, Casey Berryman reached on an error by LCU thirdbaseman Joel Lutz that permitted Douglas to come all the way home and the deficit was down to 4-2 as the third out was recorded.
In the War Hawk half of the seventh, Koll was hit by a pitch to open matters. Kyle Sargent laid down a perfect bunt and reached safely, with Koll moving up to second. Simmons then sacrificed both runners ahead 90 feet. Zack Hagan’s sacrifice fly plated Koll and allowed Sargent to move up to third base. A.J. Dupre flied out to center to end to inning and with McM down by the 4-3 final score.
Both teams were retired in order in their final two at-bats.
Bates went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with all four earned runs by the Chaps. Bates gave up seven hits and struck out five, while walking just two. Mitch Labbie pitched the final 3 2/3 innings and permitted LCU just one hit.
Sargent went 2-for-5 as McMurry’s lone player with multiple hits. Simmons and Hagan each had an RBI, as well.