By BRIAN JOHNSON
ECU Sports Information
ADA — Clay Mack’s run-scoring single toward the left field line brought home Matt Stout from second base in the bottom of the ninth inning as East Central claimed a stunning 5-4 come-from-behind victory over NCAA Division II top-ranked Abilene Christian Friday in the first game of a college baseball doubleheader at Tiger Field.
However, the Wildcats, behind the three-hit pitching of Chris Wiman and the four-hit performance of Matt McGuire, earned a 9-3 decision in the second game to salvage a split.
ECU 5, ACU 4
Stout’s leadoff double down the left field line set the stage for Mack’s game-winning hit. In hopes of putting a double play possibility in effect, reliever Brandon Moore intentionally walked the two-hole hitter Jay Neal.
But it didn’t matter as Mack pulled a pitch in which the ball hit about 10 feet inside the left field line. Stout then raced home to end the 2:27 game, which was scheduled for just seven innings.
Stout fueled the Tigers’ 12-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with his double, single and bunt-single. He knocked in two runs and also scored twice in the game. Stout, ECU’s center fielder, also had an outstanding defensive play when he made a diving catch in right-center for the third out to rob ACU’s Alec Sowards of a possible extra-base hit.
Jason Wellington and Tyler Pybas also contributed to ECU’s offense as each went 2-for-3. Pybas also scored a run.
Right-hander Matt Kennell (1-0) picked up the win after working the top of the ninth. He faced four batters, allowed one hit and struck out two.
Chad Workman, also a right-hander, pitched eight solid innings, despite not getting the decision. He scattered seven hits, walked only three and struck out eight. Three of the four runs we gave up were earned.
ACU starter Ben Maynard worked six innings before getting relief help from Jason Kennedy and Moore (0-1). Kennedy pitched the seventh and eighth innings before Moore took over and suffered the loss in the ninth.
Leadoff man Trey Watten, designated hitter Joel Wells and centerfielder Chris Walsh each collected two hits for the Wildcats, who totaled eight for the game.
Johnny Zepeda’s two-run double in the first gave ACU a 2-0 lead in the first before the Tigers countered with a run in the bottom half of the first. Stout reached on a bunt single, stole second, advanced to third on Mack’s one-out groundout and scored when Cody Carrier slapped a single to left-center.
Watten’s two-out, RBI single made it 3-1 in the second before the Tigers pushed a run across plate in the bottom of the second as Pybas led off with a triple to center before scoring on Stout’s sharp single up the middle, making it 3-2.
Wells doubled to lead off the third and scored an unearned run to make it 4-2 in the third.
ECU pulled within 4-3 in the fourth when Gus Bordones led off with a single, moved to second on Pybas’ single, advanced to third on Brett Musgrove’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Greg Minter’s RBI groundout to the shortstop.
The Tigers forced extra innings when they picked up their fourth run in the bottom of the seventh. Musgrove drew a leadoff walk, moved up to second on a passed ball and went to third on Minter’s single to left. Stout’s slash down the first base line led to a groundout, but Musgrove scored on the play to tie it up.
ACU 9, ECU 3
Wiman (4-0) went the seven-inning distance, allowed the three runs (only two were earned), walked only one and struck out seven for the victory.
ECU southpaw David Henley (0-2) was tagged with the loss after working 6 1/3 innings, allowing nine runs (eight earned) off 13 hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Tiger reliever Zak Wallis worked 2/3 of an inning in relief, allowed no hits and fanned one.
McGuire’s perfect 4-for-4 effort also included an RBI and three runs scored. Zepeda, Wells and Soward also collected two hits each for the Wildcats, who pounded out 13 for the game.
The Tigers’ only major highlight in the second game was their first home run of the year, a two-out, solo-blast to left-center by Carrier in the sixth.
ECU’s only two other hits came on a Stout double and Neal single, back-to-back efforts, in the third. Stout ultimately scored in the inning to make it 3-2 on Mack’s sacrifice fly to right.
ACU broke the game open with a run in the fourth, two more in the fifth and three in the seventh.
By BRIAN JOHNSON