Cru scores walk-off win against HSU

UMHB baseball went into a three-game series against Hardin-Simmons last weekend, sporting a six-game losing streak. But after dropping the first two games to the Cowboys, the Cru managed to find the win column again with a dramatic, walk-off victory in Saturday’s series finale.
On Friday night, Hardin-Simmons tagged UMHB’s junior starting pitcher Seth Hill for six runs, off nine hits, in 3 2/3 innings of work.
The Cru didn’t put up the bats, however. In the bottom of the fourth, senior center fielder Chase Burrow hit a triple and then scored on a double from Cody Stone. Later in the inning, catcher Max Conway drove in Stone with an RBI single to make it a 6-2 game.
Senior Will Stafford led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a double and then scored on a triple by Seth Martin. The Cru added another run when Martin scored on a wild pitch to make it a two-run game at 6-4.
UMHB Head Coach Ben Shipp said his team did a good job of battling back against the early six-run deficit.
“When you get down like that, you’ve got to focus on the little things, get one good at bat and extend the pitcher a little bit,” Shipp said. “We got there, but we just couldn’t get the big hit that we needed. But I really like the effort from our kids.”
UMHB chased HSU’s starter Jeremy Hallmark out of the game after 4 2/3 innings in which he gave up four runs on seven hits. Burrow said the hitters were able to settle in against Hallmark as the game went along.
“Early in the game, we just didn’t swing at our pitch. We swung at bad pitches early, and that’s what hurt us,” Burrow said. “In our second and third at-bats off of him, we started being more patient and that really helped.”
The Cowboys would widen the gap again in the seventh inning. Colson Craddick hit an RBI double down the left field line and Jamie Ball scored on a wild pitch to make it a 7-4 affair.
UMHB tacked on one more run in the bottom of the seventh when Dakota Parsons scored on an error, but that’s all they would get as the Cowboys took the first game of the series 8-5.
While the Cru came up short in the series opener, Shipp said his players showed they can compete with one of the better teams in the conference.
“We took their best punch, but it didn’t knock us out. We kept coming back,” he said. “I think that when you play the guys who are in the lead and show that you can play with them, it’s got to give you confidence.”
The teams were back at it Saturday for a doubleheader. In a game that was delayed three times for rain, HSU took an early 7-0 lead and held off the Cru to win 8-5.
In the bottom of the fifth with the Cru trailing 7-0, UMHB third baseman Scott Stephens launched his first home run of the year over the wall in left field to put the Cru on the board.
The Cru added a run in the sixth on an RBI double from Stone to make it an 8-1 game. Then, with two men on, Stephens came to the plate and clobbered another pitch to left for his second homer of the game.
It would pull the Cru to within three, but HSU pitcher Taylor Cooling came in the seventh inning and closed the door to give the Cowboys a second 8-5 win in the series.
In the nightcap, the Cru were finally able to break through when a wild pitch allowed Stephens to score from third to break the 6-6 tie and give the Cru a walk-off win.
“It felt great,” Stephens said. “The season’s winding down. We’ve been on a cold streak lately, but this win will hopefully help us build a little momentum.”
HSU scored two runs in the first inning off Cru starter Casey Frazier, but Frazier held the Cowboys scoreless for the next four innings, before giving up two more runs in the sixth.
“[Frazier] gave us a chance to win the game,” Shipp said. “He had a couple of bad breaks, and he knew he threw some bad pitches. It would have been easy to hang your head and quit, but he didn’t. He hung in there, threw 107 pitches and really gave us a chance to win. It was a gutsy effort.”
With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Cru currently find themselves battling for the eighth and final spot in the American Southwest Conference tournament.
“You don’t know what this win is going to mean in three weeks when conference is over,” Shipp said. “We’re trying to get into the conference tournament. “So, to get a win against the second place team is pretty important.”

Author: Cody Weems

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