Despite losing just its first Lone Star Conference series of the season over the weekend, the Wildcat baseball team is now tied with Cameron atop the LSC standings after the Aggies won three of four in Oklahoma.
The Wildcats fell to 36-15 overall and 28-12 in the LSC while Cameron moved to 37-13 overall and 28-12 in the LSC. Cameron moved up 10 spots in the Collegiate Baseball magazine poll to No. 11, jumping ACU, who fell eight spots to No. 17. Despite being tied for first, the Aggies hold the tiebreaker; however, with one final LSC series remaining for each team, the Wildcats could still win the LSC regular season title when they travel to play Tarleton State and Cameron plays Southwestern Oklahoma State this weekend.
“It’s been a while since we lost a conference series,” head coach Britt Bonneau said. “It’s a tough place to play, but they have a great team and when you play great teams at their place, it can be tough to beat them.”
In game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, Cameron starting pitcher Brad Bichel shut down ACU’s offense, allowing one unearned run on five hits in six innings in the Aggies 2-1 win. In the top of the fourth, third baseman Steve Camillucci drove in right fielder Travis Latz to tie the game at one; however, Cameron answered with one run in the fifth to break the tie and closer James Maxwell shut down ACU in the top of the seventh for the win.
ACU starting pitcher Preston Vancil pitched a complete game in the loss, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings. Second baseman Chris Hall and Camillucci led ACU’s offense; each recording two hits while Latz and shortstop Willie Uechi had the only other ACU hits.
“I thought Preston threw a great game,” Bonneau said. “We left runners in scoring position which hurt us in that game.”
Cameron scored 14 runs on 14 hits in game two to blow out the Wildcats 14-2 and sweep Saturday’s doubleheader. After ACU tied the game at one in the second inning, the Aggies responded with a combined 13 runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to hand the Wildcats their second loss. Right fielder Chase Elder led the Aggies with two home runs and 5 RBI, while CU starting pitcher Justin Kirkpatrick pitched a complete-game, allowing two runs on three hits.
ACU starting pitcher Matt Sullivan picked up the loss, allowing eight runs on seven hits in three innings, while Latz led the Wildcat offense, going 1-2 with a home run.
Needing at least one win in Sunday’s doubleheader to remain tied atop the LSC standings, the Wildcats beat Cameron 12-2 in the series finale to avoid a sweep after losing 10-6 in Sunday’s opening game. The Aggies carried over their offensive momentum from game two Saturday, scoring 10 runs on 11 hits to open Sunday’s doubleheader. After exchanging runs in the first inning, the Aggies scored two in the second before ACU tied the game at three in the third after a two-run double from Latz. However, CU scored the next six runs, including a four-run sixth, to win their third-straight game in the series.
ACU starting pitcher Cameron Aspaas picked up just his second loss of the season after allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings. He finished with a team-high two hits while Latz and designated hitter Cameron Watten each had 2 RBI.
In the series finale, Camilluci and Uechi combined to go 4-6 with 7 RBI, and starting pitcher Cooper Page pitched a complete game as ACU run-ruled Cameron 12-2. ACU scored four runs in the first and five in the second to take a 9-1 and give Page more than enough run support. Page pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out five in his second win of the season.
“In game four, Cooper Page gave us a good game and we hit better and got the win to put us back in first,” Bonneau said.
Camillucci finished 2-3 with 4 RBI, and Uechi went 2-3 with 3 RBI to lead the Wildcats. Catcher Jordan Schmitt went 2-5 with 2 RBI, left fielder Davis Page finished with 2 RBI, first baseman Bret Bochsler went 3-4 with a home run and center fielder Thomas Bumpass added two hits as ACU outhit the Aggies 16-7.
“We’re going to really try and build on everything we did well on in the second game on Sunday,” Vancil said. “That was ACU baseball in the last game: quality pitching, good defense and putting up double digit runs.”
The Wildcats had a quick turnaround as they played No. 16 Texas-Permian Basin in a non-conference matchup Tuesday, and bounced back in a big way, run-ruling the Falcons 12-2 to improve to 37-5 overall. After allowing two runs on eight hits through three innings, ACU starting pitcher Kevin Justice and closer Brad Rutherford combined to one-hit the Falcons the rest of the way as Justice improved to 7-1. Rutherford picked up his ninth save of the season, after pitching the final three innings, allowing one hit while striking out four.
ACU used a seven-run third inning to pull away from UTPB, keyed by a grand slam by Latz to put the Wildcats ahead 5-2. With two outs, Alex Harrison was hit by a pitch before Hall singled to put runners on first and second. Bumpass singled home Harrison on the next at bat ,and Schmitt followed with a walk to load the bases for Latz, who hit the first pitch he saw over the left field wall for his tenth home runs of the season.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in seventh as every Wildcat finished with at least one hit. Bumpass and Uechi led the team with two hits apiece, while Latz finished with a game-high 4 RBI, Bumpass had 3 RBI, Watten added 2 RBI and Schmitt finished with 2 RBI.
“We are in a position where we want to be and when you start the season, you always know at the end of the year it will be toughest time of the year, especially with us on road,” Bonneau said. “[Tarleton] will be competing to get in the conference tournament and it will be a really good matchup with both teams needing to win to help them out down the road.”
The Wildcats final series of the regular season will begin Friday against Tarleton State with a doubleheader, concluding with a doubleheader Saturday.
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