Angelina College head coach Jeff Livin's approach to coaching his team after four straight losses in conference play remained fairly simple.
"You don't gripe or yell at guys when they're giving you their best," Livin said after Saturday's sweep at the hands of Northeast Texas. "It's a matter of getting back to basics, relaxing and remembering how to have a little fun."
The 'Runners followed the boss guy's advice, having some fun with a 12-6, 10-6 sweep of Lon Morris on a gorgeous Wednesday at Roadrunner Field in Lufkin.
Todd Wallace came within a triple of hitting for the cycle in the opener, collecting three RBIs with a two-run homer and a single and scoring three runs himself. David Pfuntner also padded his average, finishing with three singles and two RBIs in three official trips to the plate. Kenny Allison, mired in a slump of late, broke out with a double and triple to drive in a run, and D.D. Lott added an RBI while banging out a pair of doubles.
Their plate work made a winner of AC reliever Nick Wright, who took over for starter Chase Greening with two down in the fifth – right after Lon Morris' Will Allen ripped a three-run homer to tie the game. Wright gave up a single to Logan Reneau, but struck out Carlos Gonzalez to end the inning. The righty from Belton allowed just one more hit in the next two frames, and the Roadrunners put up six runs over the last two innings to take the 12-6 win.
In the nightcap, 'Runner starting pitcher John Tatum simply overpowered the Bearcat lineup, finishing in double digits in strikeouts with 12 over six innings. Tatum allowed seven hits and three earned runs, leaving in the sixth after giving up a solo homer to Allen, a triple to Bryan Lynn and an RBI single to Reneau. Before exiting the mound, Tatum whiffed Patrick Escobar for his 12th "K" and an end to the Lon Morris rally. Austin Robson and John Gaeke tossed the last three innings for AC.
AC's offense in the game again came from Wallace, who drove in two more runs – giving him five ribbies for the day – with a double and a sacrifice fly. Greg Garcia launched a two-run homer in the fourth, and Pfuntner, who picked up two more singles to give him five hits for the day, drove in a run on a third-inning squeeze. Grant Clyde's three hits included a pair of doubles and a single; Clyde also crossed the plate three times. Chris Jones drove in two runs with a double, Ryan Gunhouse singled in a run and Kyler Crenshaw scored Wallace on a sacrifice fly.
Bearcat Benito Santiago, Jr. finished the game with a pair of RBI doubles and a single. J.J. Jones blasted a two-out, two-run homer off the scoreboard in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to prevent the sweep and keep the Bearcats winless in Region XIV play at 0-10.
The Roadrunners (17-19, 5-5) moved to .500 in conference play, and will travel to Texarkana on Friday for a doubleheader scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
LADY ROADRUNNERS SWEEP LADY SEAHAWKS
Big-time pitching and clutch hitting carried the Lady Roadrunners to a doubleheader sweep of Lamar State-Port Arthur, with AC taking 3-1 and 4-1 wins Wednesday at Roadrunner Field.
Samantha McCord's RBI triple in the fourth inning of the opener sparked the Lady 'Runner offense, and Stacie Tassin's pitching held the Lady Seahawks to just one run on four hits in AC's 3-1 win.
In the nightcap, Lady 'Runner Taylor Sells drove in all four runs in a 4-1 win. Sells' two-out, two-run single to the opposite field scored Lauren Davis and Samantha McCord to give AC a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. In the fifth, Brittani stone reached on a single, and Amy Holt followed with a shot down the third-base line to put runners on first and second. One out later, a passed ball advanced the runners, and Sells scored them both with another single and a 4-1 lead.
Lady 'Runner pitcher Kelseigh Braaton then gave up just two hits the rest of the way, helping AC push its conference record to 6-4 on the season.