ABILENE, Texas - The McMurry baseball program earned a split with Heartland Conference leader, Texas A&M International University on Friday. The War Hawks took the first game of the double header, 8-5, before falling in game two by a score of 4-2.
In game one, the War Hawks wasted no time, getting out of the gate early by scoring four runs over the first two innings of play. In the first inning, Eric Moritz led the McMs day off with a double to left-center field and, three batters later, was brought in on an RBI single by Jon Mejia to make the score 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, McM struck for three more runs. After Jeremy Ruiz and Cody Howard reached base to begin the inning, Nick Marsh knocked a triple to left field, scoring both runners to expand the advantage to 3-0. Marsh was then brought in off the bat of Moritz to make the advantage 4-0 in favor of the War Hawks.
TAMIU would fight back, however, scoring five unanswered runs over the next four innings. After scoring a run in top of the third and the top of the fifth, the Dustdevils struck for three more in the away half of the sixth inning. Then with two outs, and the bases loaded, Alex McKeon sent a ball into shallow right field. With the ball looking as if it were going to drop and score all three runners, Marsh made a spectacular, diving, over-the-shoulder grab to end the threat and the inning with TAMIU up just one, 5-4.
On the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth, Cody Howard tied the game with one swing of the bat, blasting his first home run of the season over the right field fence to knot the game, 5-5. After a walk issued to Eric Preuss, Moritz, Zack Hagan, Ruben Zendejasand Mejia connected on four-straight singles which led to three runs to give McM the 8-5 lead.
Jared Hopper, who had entered the game in relief of Spencer Smith in top of the sixth, pitched a perfect seventh inning to preserve the victory for McMurry and also earn his first win of the season.
On the mound, Smith went 5.2 innings while allowing seven hits and three earned runs while striking out three. Hopper, pitched 1.1 innings of work and did not allow a single baserunner while striking out one.
Offensively, Mejia went three-for-four, while Moritz and Howard collected two hits apiece. Mejia and Marsh also had two-RBI games, while Howard, Zendejas, Hagan and Moritz all finished with an RBI each.
In game two, pitching was the name of the game, as the two programs allowed just 14 total hits over nine innings, with the Dustdevils coming out on top, with the 4-2 victory.
After TAMIU got on the board first in the top of the first, the War Hawks came right back, notching two runs in the bottom of the frame. After back-to-back base hits by Hagan and Mejia, a two-run double by AJ Dupre gave McMurry its only two runs of the ball game and gave McM the 2-1 advantage.
The Dustdevils would tie the game in the top of the third, but it wouldn't be until the top of the eighth inning that they would be able to score the go-ahead runs. A two-RBI triple by Alex Salas gave allowed two unearned runs to score which gave TAMIU the 4-2 lead and handed McMurry the loss by the same score.
On the mound, McMurry's Aaron Burns and TAMIU's Abdel Rivera had similar numbers on the day. Rivera pitched a complete game, allowing just two earned and six hits while striking out eight. Burns pitched well for the War Hawks getting the no decision by going seven strong, while allowing two earned on six hits. He also struck out seven batters on the day.
Offensively in game two, McM was once again led by Mejia, who went two-for-four on the day. Dupre had the lone RBIs in the contest.
The War Hawks and Dustdevils will each look to take the series victory tomorrow as the rubber match will be played at Walt Driggers Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Information for this story provided by McMurry Sports Information.
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