The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team delivered a pair of clutch performances in sweeping Mid-America Christian University on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions, who dropped the series opener on Friday, 2-0, won both ends of the doubleheader, 1-0 and 6-5 at MACU’s James Curtis Field.
Senior Jared Denton crushed a leadoff home run to leftfield in the top of the last inning to break up a scoreless pitcher’s duel in Saturday’s first game.
The Lions got off to a 5-1 lead in the nightcap before the Evangels rallied to tie the score. Knotted at 5, freshman Jonathan Santiago lined a one-out RBI single to centerfield to drive in Bryan Threadgill with the winning run.
Josh Terry set up the play by moving Threadgill into scoring position with a single to center.
SAGU outhit MACU in game one, 4-3, and 12-7 in the second contest.
Tucker Burt got the win in the first while Jarrod Pisors, of Red Oak, was credited with the victory in the second. Burt is 3-3, Pisors 4-3.
Now 12-15 overall and 3-6 in the Sooner Athletic Conference, SAGU plays host to Southwestern Christian University Friday and Saturday at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
Game one: MACU 2-0
The Lions managed just three hits against the Evangels ace Robert Sanatana. He was on top of his game, striking out 16 of the 30 batters he faced. He did not issue a walk, though he did fire 130 pitches.
Now 5-1, he has fanned 52 batters in 36 innings.
MACU collected five of their nine hits in the fifth and sixth innings, which is when they tallied single runs off of Pedro “Tres” Ortiz. He went seven innings and tossed 98 pitches.
In the bottom of the eighth Ortiz, a left-hander, yielded to freshman Burt after a leadoff single, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice that loaded the bases with no outs.
Burt, a righty, proceeded to retire three straight batters on a shallow fly to right, a pop up to first base and a fielder’s choice.
Clay Gentle had two of the team’s three hits, with Denton getting the other.
SAGU had one chance in the game, and it occured in the fourth with goose-eggs filling the scoreboard.
Gentle beat out an infield single to the shortstop with one out. Denton followed with a double to rightfield that finished with Gentle hugging third. Santana had the next two batters choking on splinters, striking out both of them. He had nine K’s through four, including all three outs that inning.
Game two: SAGU 1-0
Another outstanding battle of opposing hurlers, this time featuring the Lions’ ace, Pisors. He held the hosts scoreless for three and two-thirds of an inning. The 6-foot-7 sophomore got into a jam and Head Coach Sam Blackmon knew just who to call; Burt.
He escaped any damage and finished the final three and one-third innings, striking out three and allowing just one hit.
Denton stepped into the box to start the pivotal seventh frame. He connected on a 2-2 fastball, sending it towering over the fence in straight-away leftfield. It was his second tater of the spring and tenth extra-base hit.
“He put a good swing on it,” Blackmon said. “It was clutch all the way.”
The next three batters were sat down on fly balls before Burt took the hill, determined to seal the deal. The 6’5 freshman coaxed the first and third batters to ground out to Gentle at third and to shortstop Preston Hornbeck. He rang up the middle man on strikes to even his record at 3-3.
Pisors and Burt combined on a three-hit shutout, walking five and whiffing five. MACU stranded eight runners, and SAGU pitching was the reason.
Game three: SAGU 6-5
Southpaw Jeremy Cross had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. The Evangels got to him for three doubles, and infield single and a pair of walks to tie the game.
Pisors got the call from the bullpen. He spared further damage when the infield turned a 6-4-3 double play. Gentle, Hornbeck and Santiago turned a couple of other twin-killers in the two games.
The Lions got their first run on a Denton RBI before Brock Schneider knocked in Threadgill in the second.
Matthew Schaeffer lined a timely two-out, two-bagger to send in the third run. Hornbeck and Gentle then contributed RBI singles.
The SAGU bats racked up a dozen hits and produced the decisive tally in the fifth. Hornbeck, Gentle, Threadgill and Santiago all registered two hits to spearhead the attack.
What turned out to be the winning run came in the fifth. Threadgill, who scored thrice, got it started with a base on balls. Terry hit a frozen rope into leftcenter helped set the table. A wild pitch allowed both runners to scurry into scoring position.
Santiago muscled a liner to centerfield to plate Threadgill with the game-winner.
Pisors earned the win to raise his record to 4-3. But he had to work for it. He handled a pair of scoring threats in the fifth and seventh to preserve the lead.
A bunt single and hit batsman gave MACU a chance. It disappeared when Gentle fielded a smash at third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Pisors got the next man swinging.
A single to left and a sacrifice bunt presented the Evangels with an opportunity to score the equalizer. A groundout to Santiago at second allowed the baserunner to advance to third with two outs.
MACU’s clean-up hitter then hit a fly to rightfield where Tallon Ralstin made the catch to snuff out the rally.
The six runs ended a stretch of 12 games where the Lions scored four runs or less.