FROM CBB NEWS SOURCES
ABILENE, Texas – Stephen Derrick and Weston Franco put a charge into McMurry’s offense with back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning and the home team went on to defeat Mississippi College 10-2 in its opening game of the American Southwest Conference Championship Round Friday at Walt Driggers Field.
Derrick poked a 3-run home run to opposite field for his 10th of the season and Franco followed with a towering solo shot to left field for his 10th of the year The four-run inning for McMurry followed Mississippi’s run in the top of the third when Will Reed led off with a solo homer. However, McMurry starter Clint Johnston kept the Choctaws at bay and McMurry came through offensively.
“You always need to start off the game with one big hit to get on the board,” Derrick said of the home run. “I was looking for something to elevate and fortunately I got a lot of it. Then with Weston’s right behind me, it picked up the emotion even more.”
McMurry wasn’t done, however, in the fourth, McMurry added three more runs to extend the lead to 7-1 thanks to a pair of doubles from Steven Yurchick and Derrick David. The Choctaws managed just one more run in the fifth inning when Dakota Bodree led off with a triple and scored later on a wild pitch.
“Sometimes guys tend to let up a little bit when they get up early so for us to follow up a big inning with three more in the fourth was clutch,” said McMurry head coach Lee Driggers. “You get your confidence going with something like back-to-back homers, but you still have to stay consistent and Yurchick and David delivered with clutch hits.”
Johnston threw seven innings, scattered nine hits, walked two and struck out three to move to 5-4 on the season. McMurry roughed up Mississippi College starter Jonathan Russell who entered the game with a 9-1 record and a 2.81 ERA. However, Russell struggled allowing 11 hits and eight runs over seven innings. The senior struck out eight but walked four and couldn’t keep McMurry from getting the big hit.
“[Russell] is a tough pitcher to hit but he made a couple of mistakes and we were able to take advantage,” Derrick said. “We took even more momentum by having two big innings, and Clint did a good job of keeping them to two runs and we were fortunate to play good defense.”
Leading 7-2, McMurry’s George Whitten added solid insurance by lining a homer to left field for a 3-run shot and his first of the season. The senior, finished the game with three hits to accompany three RBI.
With the win McMurry and Concordia-Texas are in the driver’s seats for Saturday’s games. The two ASC West teams represented in the championship round will square off at 3:30 p.m. UT-Tyler and Mississippi College will play at Noon Saturday in an elimination game. The winner of the noon game will face the loser of McMurry and CTX’s matchup followed by the championship games Sunday.
Cody Curry will start against the Tornados Friday; the junior carries an 8-1 mark and a 3.50 ERA into the contest. He won his earlier contest with CTX April 5 when McMurry won 11-4; he struck out 10 in 5.1 innings of work.
“I wouldn’t call us in the driver’s seat, but it’s a lot better situation to be in when you’re in the winner’s bracket, because if you’re not it’ll take four wins to come back and win it,” Driggers said. “Concordia will be a tough opponent but we’ll be looking forward for a good game tomorrow.”
McMurry won the coin toss and will be the home team against Concordia Saturday. Mississippi College will be the home team against UT-Tyler Saturday.