ABILENE, Texas - The McMurry baseball team sent its seniors off in style as the War Hawks outscored Newman University, 16-3, in a double-header sweep of the Jets on senior day at Walt Driggers Field. McM captured game one, 11-2 before winning game two, 5-1, to take the 3-1 series victory.
In game one, McM tore the cover off the ball, striking for 11 runs on 12 hits in the seven-inning game, behind a 3-for-4 performance from senior Dylan De Leon.
McMurry broke into the run column in style in the bottom of the first inning. After De Leon reached base on a one-out walk, Cody Howard broke open the scoring by blasting a two-run home run over the right field fence to give McM the 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, the War Hawks would add another run, this time off the bat of Ruben Zendejas. After a walk to Jeremy Ruiz, Zendejas laced a ball down the right-field line, allowing Ruiz to come in all the way from first base to extend the advantage to 3-0.
It was in the bottom of the fourth, however, that McM blew the game wide-open, thanks in large part to De Leon. After Newman cut the advantage to 3-1 in top of the inning, McM responded with a five-run frame.
With the bases loaded and one run already scored in the inning, De Leon stepped to the plate and belted a ball over the centerfielder's head. The ball rolled all the way to the center-field wall and De Leon never stopped running, crossing the plate behind three other War Hawks (Zendejas, Alex Hajduk and Ricky Garcia) for an inside-the-park grand slam.
"All I did was hit the ball well," remarked De Leon, who was playing in his final home series of his career. "I was thinking two out of the box and when I saw that the ball had reached all the way to the wall, I just kept running." De Leon's first home run of the season had given the War Hawks the 8-1 lead, and the route was on.
For good measure, McMurry piled on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, getting RBI from Hajduk and Ruiz in the process, to extend the lead to 11-1. McMurry would give one run back in the top of the sixth, but Newman would get no closer as the War Hawks took game one, 11-2.
Starter Aaron Burns gave McM its third-straight complete game performance by a War Hawks' pitcher, as he went seven innings while allowing just two-earned and striking out three on route to his team leading, seventh win of the season.
"Burns was awesome out there," remarked senior pitcher Spencer Smith, who, playing in his final home series of his career, also threw a complete game victory yesterday. "He (Burns) is a very talented pitcher and he has been a work horse for us all season. He is a special pitcher, and I'm looking forward to see what he does over the next few years."
Offensively, De Leon led the way, collecting three hits and four RBI in the game. Cody Howard also kept up his hot streak, tagging the Jets' pitching staff for two more hits and two RBI.
Every other War Hawk in the batting order tallied a hit, with Zendejas' going for extra bases on the double.
In game two, McM once again got a quality performance from its pitching staff and Cody Howard maintained his torrid pace to help the War Hawks to the 5-1 victory.
Just like in game one, McMurry jumped on the board early on a RBI single by Greg Koll, which scored Casey Berryman, to put the War Hawks up 1-0.
Pitcher Joel DePorte, making just his second start of the season, allowed just two hits over the next three innings of work and kept the Jets off the board until McMurry could add some insurance.
That insurance came from Howard, who once again muscled a ball over the right field fence, just inside the foul pole, for his second, two-run shot of the game, scoring Berryman, to make the lead 3-0.
DePorte allowed one run in the bottom of the fifth, but got out of the inning with a runner on second to preserve the 3-1 lead.
McMurry would go on to add two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Berryman reached base by being hit by a pitch, both Howard and Koll notched infield singles to load the bases with one out. Marsh then brought in Berryman with a sacrifice fly and Garcia drove in Howard from second with a RBI single to give McM the 5-1 lead.
In the top of the sixth inning, coach John Byington went to his bullpen for the first time over the four-game series, and the relievers did not disappoint. The combination of Caleb Gonzales and Jared Hopper allowed just two baserunners and one hit, combined, over the final four innings of work to slam the door on Newman and preserve the 5-1 victory.
On the mound, DePorte made the most of his second start of the season, working five strong innings while allowing six and one earned run.
"Our pitching staff has been one of our biggest strengths all season," remarked De Leon. "It was nice to go out there and give them some breathing room, but all six guys did a great job this weekend."
Offensively, the War Hawks' three-through-seven hitters combined to go 10-for-17 on the day, led by Howard's four-for-four, two-RBI performance. Berryman and Koll collected two hits each, while Marsh and Garcia tallied a hit.
Over the course of the four-game series, the War Hawks offense came alive, outscoring Newman, 28-9, while collecting 38 hits and six, extra-base hits in the series.
"I felt this was a great way to end the seniors' careers at home," said De Leon of the series victory. "Everyone out there came out and played hard, and we showed what we can do when everyone is playing their best."
McM will finish up its regular season when it travels to San Antonio for a three-game series with St. Mary's University on Thursday and Friday, May 2 and 3. Double header action on Friday is slated for a 4 p.m. start.
Information provided by McMurry Athletics Dept.