Second baseman Jeff Schmidt went 3-for-3 and knocked in a run and J.P. O’Leary had a great pitching effort, but it wasn’t enough as Incarnate Word held on for a 3-2 Lone Star Conference baseball victory over East Central University Saturday at Tiger Field.
The Tigers — who dropped to 9-34 on the season and 5-28 in the LSC and lost their 14th straight contest — saw the Cardinals do all of their offensive damage with a three-run, four-hit sixth inning to break the scoreless deadlock.
ECU came through with a single run in the seventh as Mac Grace led off with a walk, advanced to third on Schmidt’s double and scored off Justin Gibson’s RBI groundout to short.
The Tigers posed another major threat in the bottom of the ninth off closer Elroy Urbina.
ECU pinch-hitter Tommie Johnson drew a leadoff walk and later stole second with one out. Schmidt then drove the first pitch to right-center as Johnson raced home for the second run to cut it 3-2.
Gibson then walked, sending Schmidt to second base. Pinch-hitter J.T. Gasso then avoided hitting into a double play as he reached first on a fielder’s choice as Gibson was erased at second base. But a strikeout ended the contest as the Tigers left 10 runners on the bases for the day.
O’Leary, the hard-luck loser, worked all nine innings, allowing all three earned runs off six hits with four walks and six strikeouts in falling to 0-8.
UIW reliever Ethan Lutz got the win as he worked three innings and allowed only one earned run off three hits with three walks and a strikeout. Urbina pitched the last two innings for his 12th save of the season as he allowed only one earned run off one hit with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.
Also for the Tigers, Rick Hepworth went 2-for-4 with a double while Dylan Mascarenas, Dack Howard and Mac Grace also finished with a single apiece.
UIW, which improved to 31-12 and 22-8, received a 3-for-4 hitting effort from Jackson Woodruff as it swept the three-game series after winning a pair, 8-2 and 8-1, on Friday.
The Cardinals’ three-run sixth when Mike De La Rosa’s smash went off the foot of O’Leary as the ball zipped past shortstop Austin Ardery for an unusual two-run infield single. Woodruff later hit a run-scoring single to make it 3-0.
It was the final home game for ECU this season. The contest was delayed more than 30 minutes due to rain. The Tigers close out the 2011 season next weekend for a three-game series at Texas A&M-Kingsville. The two teams are scheduled to play a 1 p.m. single game on Friday and a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.