NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin baseball team sent 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning in scoring all five of its runs in a 5-4 midweek win over Prairie View A&M at Jaycees Field.
The ‘Jacks (16-7, 6-2 Southland) had a hit in each of the first three innings against Prairie View (5-18, 3-6 SWAC) starter Mark Almaguer, but could not deliver a run-scoring hit until the sixth when they took advantage of half of their 10 hits on the day to score just enough runs for the win.
Zack Taylor struck out three in throwing two perfect innings to start the game for SFA, but could not make it out of the fourth. Freshman Josh Wright then took over and sat down all eight hitters he faced in 2.2 innings of work to earn his first win of the year. Brett Higginbotham and Landon Kozeny bridged the gap until the ninth before Jason West came in to toss a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his fourth save of the year.
Almaguer was the hard-luck loser for the Panthers, striking out seven and walking just one in six innings of work; however, both Prairie View errors came in the costly sixth inning, making just three of the five runs against Almaguer earned.
The SFA pitching staff held the Panthers to just four hits on the day and Darren Crabtree, Bobby Loveless and Tanner Hines each finished with 2-for-4 outings to lead the SFA offense.
A Sterling Smith single in the third and a Brandon Brooks bases-loaded walk in the fourth put the Panthers out in front before the ‘Jacks took the lead in the deciding sixth. Patrick Gratzke reached to lead off the frame by being hit by an Almaguer pitch and Hines followed that with a sure single to left. Crabtree then put the ‘Jaks on the board with a chopper up the middle for a single that scored Gratzke. Bobby Loveless then tied it up with a routine grounder to short that scored Hines and even reached first on an errant throw. Jarid Scarafiotti then loaded then loaded the bases for Bo Coffman with a bunt single, who put SFA ahead with a sacrifice fly to center field. One batter later Loveless came across to score when Brandon Williams dropped a routine fly ball in left field off the bat of Ryan Priest before Justin Long delivered an RBI to close out the scoring.
But defensive miscues made it interesting in the seventh as a pair of errors on Hines contributed to two runs scoring for the Panthers on just a single hit, cutting the lead to 5-4.
The ‘Jacks could only manage one hit in the final two frames off of Panther reliever Benjamin Blackburn, but Kozeny was able to pitch a scoreless eighth in front of West's perfect ninth.
SFA gets no break between games as reigning Southland champion Texas State comes to town for a three-game set beginning Thursday at Jaycees Field. Tyler Herriage is slated to get the ball for SFA, opposite of right-hander Carson Smith for Texas State.