McMurry University earned a split in its Heartland Conference opening doubleheader versus Newman University on Friday at Walt Driggers Field. The War Hawks (3-8, 1-1 HC) dropped the seven-inning opening game, 4-0, but bounced back to win the nightcap in 11 innings, 9-8, over the Jets (5-5, 1-1 HC).
Game 1 was a close affair, with the Jets clinging to 1-0 lead through four complete innings. IN the top half of the fifth, Newman put some distance between itself and McM when centerfielder Ricky Sanchez blasted an opposite-field home run off the War Hawks’ starter Lanny Zier.
Zier would finish the fifth and pitch to one batter in the sixth, before being lifted after issuing a walk. Zier allowed all six Jet hits and was charged with four earned runs. He walked three and struck out four.
Trevor Daggon came on and tossed two innings of hitless relief.
McMurry matched Newman in total hits with six, all singles. Designated hitter Ben Douglas laced a pair of hits in three at-bats. Starters A.J. Dupre and Greg Koll each had a hit, as well as pinch hitters Jeffers Rader and Nick Marsh.
In Game 2, the two teams combined for 27 hits – 11 for NU and 16 for McM – over the course of the 11-inning bout. Marsh and Blake Smith each went 3-for-6 in the game. Marsh scored three runs and Smith collect two runs batted in, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 11th on a fielder’s choice.
Also posting multi-hit games was Dupre (2-4), Zack Hagan (2-6), Rader (2-4) and Kyle Sargent (2-4). Rader drove in three runs and Sargent scored twice. Jeremy Ruiz and Eric Moritz each had a double in the game.
Moritz’s two-bagger led off the bottom of the 11th inning, chasing NU reliever Cody Frederickson (who would eventually take the loss). Ruiz then sacrificed Moritz to third for the first out of the inning, off of reliever Joe Cannady. Koll was issued an intentional walk to set up the potential double play.
On the very first pitch from Cannady, Smith hit a slow roller to second. The force out was recorded at second, but Smith beat the relay to first and Moritz crossed the plate with the winning run.
Mitch Labbie, the sixth War Hawk hurler of the night, was the pitcher of record and picked up his first victory of the season.
Starter Joel DePorte had a shaky start, but settled down to scatter seven hits over his six-inning stint, allowing just two runs. He struck out three without issuing a walk.
McMurry led 6-2 when DePorte departed and still clung to an 8-5 cushion through eight frames. However, McM reliever Caleb Gonzales was touched up for three runs in the ninth, which knotted matters at 8-8 after regulation.
The two teams will play the rubber game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Driggers Field.
Information provided by McMurry athletics department.