ABILENE, Texas – McMurry University dropped a Heartland Conference doubleheader to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith at Walt Driggers Field. The War Hawks (20-24, 11-14 HC) lost by scores of 1-0 in extra innings in the opener and then fell by a 3-1 score in the nightcap to the Lions (23-21, 13-13 HC).
In game one, Lanny Zier pitched an outstanding game for McMurry. Zier was locked in a pitcher’s duel with UAFS’s Jordan Cordray for each of the scheduled seven innings. Neither team was able to mount an offensive attack and the game went to the eighth inning, with the score 0-0.
That’s when the Lions were able to pounce on Zier. A walk to leadoff man Curtis Clark – Zier’s first of the game - was followed by an error charged to McM firstbaseman AJ Dupre on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The third batter of the frame was safe on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.
Zier then walked Josh Vanderpool to force in Clark with what would be the lone run of the contest. Mitch Labbie came on in relief of Zier, striking out the first man he faced and then inducing an inning-ending double play.
McMurry managed just a Zack Hagan single in the bottom of the eighth, leaving the final score 1-0. McM out-hit UAFS by a six-to-three margin in the game.
Kyle Sargent (2-3) and Hagan (2-4) had multi-hit games for McMurry.
Zier (4-5) allowed UAFS three hits and the unearned run. He struck out five and did not walk a batter until the pair he issued in the eighth. Labbie added one “K”.
Game two took a similar tack as the first, with few runs and pitching taking center stage.
McMurry scratched out an unearned run in the second inning in grabbing the early lead. A two out walk to Eric Moritz brought Eric Preuss to the plate. Preuss grounded to third and a throwing error allowed him to reach safely. The UAFS right-fielder then made a throwing error after retrieving the ball and Moritz scored, 1-0. The Lions clawed back in the fifth to tie it at 1-1, and that was enough to chase McM starter Caleb Gonzales, with Ben Bates coming on to close out the inning.
Bates got through the sixth unscathed. However, in the seventh he was greeted by a leadoff single, with the runner bunted over to second. Labbie was then called upon again, but gave up a single that plated the go-ahead run, followed by two wild pitches that added some insurance for the Lions, 3-1, before the third out was recorded.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ben Douglas and Moritz had back-to-back singles to open the inning. Preuss sacrificed to advance the runners. But the War Hawks could not get the runners any further, suffering the sweep.
Douglas (2-3) collected two of McMurry’s three hits as a team.
The two teams close out the series on Saturday with a single game (1 p.m.).