ABILENE, Texas – McMurry University handed Heartland Conference leader Lubbock Christian University just its second league loss of the year, splitting a doubleheader with a 3-2 win in the first game and a 3-2 loss in the second. The War Hawks (10-16, 6-7 HC) win snapped an eight-game winning streak by the Chaps (18-7, 11-2 HC).
The resilient McM team could has just as easily earned a sweep versus the No. 14-ranked LCU team had its ninth inning rally in game two not fallen just short. Down 3-0 heading into the bottom of the final frame, McMurry mounted its comeback bid when Kyle Sargent drew a leadoff walk LCU starter Tim Carlson. That was followed by a double off the bat of Christian Simmons that plated Sargent and ended Carlson’s evening.
Down 3-1, Jesse Pintado came on in relief for the Chaps. Pintado was greeted with a triple by Zack Hagan that allowed Simmons to waltz home to make it 3-2 and put the potential tying run just 90 feet away. After Greg Koll struck out swinging for the first pout of the inning, AJ Dupre ripped a shot toward first base that looked like it might get through. However, LCU firstbaseman Brandon Wilson smothered the all and came up throwing, cutting down Hagan at the plate with a strike to catcher Wigberto Nevarez. Eric Moritz struck out to end the game and allowed the nationally-ranked Chaps to escape with the split.
That’s because, in the day’s opening game, McM senior pitcher Joel DePorte (3-3) cooled off the hot LCU team with his seven-inning complete-game victory. DePorte scattered nine hits and allowed just one earned run. His control was impeccable, striking out seven Chaps without walking a batter.
The War Hawks were down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth when the team mounted their first comeback of the day. Simmons and Hagan opened the inning with back-to-back singles, and then advanced a base on a balk. Dupre then grounded out to second for an RBI, as Hagan moved over to third. Ben Douglas was hit by a pitch and Moritz followed with a sacrifice fly that got Hagan home to knot the game at 2-2. Koll flied out to left for the third out.
In the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Joel Villarreal singled to center off of reliever Dalton Silva. Blake Smith pinch ran for Villarreal and advanced to second on a throwing error on a fielder’s choice, with Patrick Adams safe at first. Sargent then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third.
Simmons was intentionally walked to bring Hagan to the plate with the winning run at third. The junior slapped an infield walk-off single to deep shortstop that pushed across Smith with the winning run.
Caleb Gonzales (1-1) was the losing pitcher for McM in game two, after 5 1/3 innings of work. Gonzales allowed the three earned runs and seven hits to the Chaps. Relief man Trevor Ragsdale pitched 3 2/3 innings – his longest stint of the season – of scoreless baseball. He permitted just two hits with one strikeout.
On the day, Hagan was a combined 5-for-8 with a run scored and two RBI. He was 2-for-4 in game one and 3-for-4 in the nightcap.
Simmons was 3-for-7 in the twinbill. He scored twice and had one RBI.
The same two teams will play the rubber game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Walt Driggers Field.