War Hawks sweep Howard Payne for fifth straight win

BCH Sports

ABILENE, Texas – McMurry University Baseball picked up its first American Southwest Conference sweep of the season on Good Friday, taking both games of a doubleheader with Howard Payne University by 8-0 and 10-4 finals at Walt Driggers Field in Abilene.

The War Hawks (7-14, 4-11 ASC) extended its win streak to five games on Friday – winning all five games in a span of three days. In all five games, including two against Schreiner University on Tuesday, McMurry’s offense scored at least eight runs and averaged just under 10 runs per game.

For this series, McMurry outscored HPU by a 26-11 margin.

The Yellow Jackets fell to 4-16 overall and 1-14 in conference play.

Game 1: McMurry 8, Howard Payne 0 (7 innings)

Junior pitcher Nick Hamel was the star of the show in the opener, allowing just two hits in a complete-game shutout of the Yellow Jackets. Hamel (1-1) threw all 7.0 innings, giving up only two walks with six strikeouts.

Hamel also had ample run support to work with, as the McMurry offense scored eight runs on seven hits.

The first inning brought home what became the game-winning run, as senior Ryan Potter singled home leadoff man Javier Rosa for the early advantage.

The home team never looked back, posting a monstrous fourth inning with six runs. Each run came with the bases loaded, as Rosa opened the can of worms with a two-RBI single through the left side, scoring Reed Hodges and Marty Carnahan.

Senior Sam Hillyer and freshman Josh De La Rosa also had RBI singles in the frame, with Hillyer reaching on an infield single to move runners up all around and De La Rosa ripping a two-RBI hit to right field.

Scoring ended in the fifth as Hodges came home on a wild pitch.

Carrying his impressive one-hit outing into the seventh frame, Hamel allowed a leadoff single to give HPU a base runner. Following a lineout to right field for the first out, the game ended on a 4-6-3 double play from Rosa to Blake Beach to Hillyer.

McMurry had three double plays in the Friday opener.

Six War Hawks recorded hits in the victory, with two from Potter to lead the way. Hodges was the only player not to have a plate appearance in the starting lineup, drawing two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

Pitchers of record:
W – Nick Hamel (1-1)
L – Chandler Paul (0-3)

Game 2: McMurry 10, Howard Payne 4

With the series in hand, the War Hawks donned their camouflage caps for the finale in hopes of a sweep, and did so with another complete performance.

Starting on the mound was senior Matthew Bass, who earned the win with 4.1 scoreless innings. He scattered five hits with one walk and had a strikeout.

Though four runs came after Bass’s departure, the War Hawks racked up a season-high 16 hits on offense en route to a 10-run day. HPU’s first run did not cross until the seventh inning – with McMurry leading 7-0.

The War Hawks added more insurance in the eighth with three runs, but allowed a three-run homer by HPU’s Tanner Benson in the ninth. Any hopes of a rally were thwarted by Alaskan sensation Reid Brock, who closed out HPU with back-to-back outs after the homer. He and fellow freshman Jonathan Enriquez combined for 4.2 relief innings to preserve the sweep.

Senior Mike Gonzales and junior Nick Hamel led the way with three hits apiece, as each finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Gonzales, who tripled and scored on a throwing error in the dugout for a make-shift inside the park homer, finished the weekend 7-for-15 at the plate.

Ryan Potter opened scoring with an RBI double in the first inning, marking the first of seven unanswered runs through six innings. Most of the damage came in the third, as Hamel doubled home Javier Rosa to make it 2-0. Three more crossed in the frame, with one coming on a wild pitch and two on RBI singles from Sam Hillyer and Reed Hodges back-to-back.

After Gonzales scored himself in the fourth, McMurry added insurance in the sixth with Hamel’s second RBI hit of the day – a single to left center field.

The lead was padded again in the seventh with three more runs, making it 10-1 in the late innings. Christian Oliver and Blake Beach joined the RBI party with bases-loaded singles, then one more crossed on a double play ball.

All nine starters had at least one hit, with Hodges, Beach and Potter joining the multi-hit club. Hodges also caught all three games behind the plate for a total of 31 innings.

Pitchers of record:
W – Matthew Bass (2-1)
L – Kyle Purdes (0-3)

On deck:
The War Hawks will look to make it six wins in a row with a single-game at Wayland Baptist on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Plainview, Texas.

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