FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
AUSTIN, Texas – The Hilltoppers overcame strong windy conditions and a poor defensive performance to take the rubber game of a three-game set with UT-Permian Basin, 7-4, Saturday afternoon at Lucian-Hamilton Field.
On a blustery day, UT-Permian Basin (13-5, 10-4 HC) looked sharp in the early going. Falcon starter Drew Kendrick (3-2) was especially sharp. He was nearly perfect during his first two innings of work. Kendrick kept St. Edward’s (8-9, 7-7 HC) scoreless during his first two innings of work, allowing only one run and striking out three Hilltoppers.
The Falcons struck first in the third inning. Center fielder Chandler Goode came around to score on a double down the left field line by first baseman Logan Forrest.
The Hilltoppers answered in the bottom half of the inning. To show how every minor detail in a baseball game can be extremely significant, Kendrick had been cruising along and dominating the Hilltoppers when his catcher Robert Leigh overthrew him returning a pitch. After this, things immediately started to unravel for Kendrick, whose rhythm had definitely been broken. Kendrick walked shortstop Jeremy Houser and then gave up consecutive infield singles to centerfielder Dylan Schuch and second baseman Drew Cross. The shortstop Chris Wagner made an errant throw on Cross’ hit, allowing Houser to score. Schuch then scored on a passed ball. Cross came around to score on a double down the left field line by first baseman Dexter Moreno. Catcher Drew Kimball, who walked earlier in the inning and advanced to third on the Moreno double, scored the next run on a wild pitch from Kendrick. Left fielder Justin Shufelt followed this up by drawing a walk and right fielder Mike Hancock loaded the bases when he reached on a catcher’s interference call. Designated hitter Daniel Rufini unloaded them with a two-run single to left field.
After a walk to Houser loaded the bases again, the Falcons went to the bullpen and brought in Mario Urena. Urena got Schuch to groundout to shortstop to end the inning but the damage had been done. St. Edward’s scored six runs on four hits, while aided by two Falcon errors. The Hilltoppers took a 6-1 lead into the top of the fourth inning.
UT-Permian Basin got two runs back in the fifth inning. Wagner and Forrest each knocked run-scoring singles to shallow right-center field. This cut St. Edward’s lead down to 6-3.
The Falcons struck again in the sixth inning. After designated Chris Hook reached on an error by Cross, he came around to score on another by Hilltopper third baseman Nick Godre. UT-Permian Basin went on to load the bases in the inning, but Hilltopper starter Patrick Scholl (3-2) struck out the final two batters of the inning to get out of the jam.
Shufelt got this run back for St. Edward’s in the bottom half of the inning. After Kimball reached on an error by the third baseman, he came around to score on a single up the middle by Shufelt that was bobbled by the center fielder Goode. This pushed the Hilltopper lead out to 7-4.
Hilltopper right-hander Tim Laine came on in relief of Scholl in the seventh inning. The Falcons loaded the bases, but Laine was able to stike out Falcon catcher Robert Leigh to end the threat. So far in the game, UT-Permian Basin had left nine runners stranded on base.
The score remained the same over the next couple of frames. Up by three runs, Hilltopper closer Jonathan Burns was called on finish off the Falcons. Burns was up to the challenge, tossing a scoreless inning and striking out two batters en route to his third save of the season.
The Hilltoppers had a rough time defensively, committing five errors. They were able to persevere though and won the game, 7-4.
Cross led the way for St. Edward’s at the plate, going 3-5 and scoring a run. Moreno went 2-3 with a run batted in and a run scored. Rufini also drove in a pair of runs.
On the mound for the Hilltoppers, Scholl threw six solid innings, giving up four runs (no earned runs) and seven hits, while striking out four batters. Laine added two scoreless innings of relief and Burns earned his third save of the season.
The Hilltoppers will be back in action Friday when they host Panhandle State for an afternoon double header. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.