After dropping its previous series, 2-1, to St. Edward's University, the McM baseball team will take a short reprieve from Heartland Conference play as it travels Angelo State for a nine-inning contest with the Rams.
The War Hawks are coming off their second-straight series defeat as they dropped two-of-three contest against St. Edward's last weekend. McM dropped games one in two by scores of 7-0 and 4-2, respectively, before taking game three by a 5-3 score in extra innings.
In the extra innings win, the pitching combination of Aaron Burns and Jared Hopper combined to hold the Hilltoppers to just two earned runs over ten innings of work. After Burns worked eight strong innings, Hopper worked the final two, striking out four batters on route to his fifth win of the season.
Offensively in the game, Nick Marsh totaled three hits and a RBI and Eric Moritz notched two RBI. However, it was Jordan Kennedy who knocked what proved to be the game-winning run in the top of the tenth inning on his only hits of the day.
Angelo State, currently ranked fifth in the South Central Region by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), is coming off a 3-1 series victory over Lone Star Conference foe, Eastern New Mexico. In the series finale, the Rams dropped an 8-7 decision after leading 7-1 in the top of the sixth inning.
Offensively this season, the War Hawks are being led by Jon Mejia's .357 batting average. Mejia also boasts a .595 slugging percentage, seven doubles, and 15 RBI, all which lead the team. Ricky Garcia is tied for the team lead in RBI with 15 and Mortiz is right behind, having driven in 14 runs on the year.
For Angelo State, the offense comes in bunches averaging just under 6.5 runs per game. Seven different players boast batting averages over the .300 mark, including Andrew LaCombe (.362) and Christian Summers (.356). Lee Neumann has driven in 34 RBI on the season and is followed closely by LaCombe's 32.
The War Hawks have played a tough schedule in their first season of Division II competition. Of the ten teams currently ranked in the top ten in the NCBWA South Central Regional Poll, McM has played seven of them. So far this season, McMurry has played #2 St. Mary's, #3 St. Edward's, #4 Tarleton State, #5 Angelo State, #7 Abilene Christian, #9 Texas A&M – International and #10 West Texas – A&M. Currently, McM is 7-10 against those teams, having taken series from St. Mary's and Texas A&M – International.
The War Hawks and Rams met earlier this season at Walt Driggers Field. On February 12, the Rams walked away with a 7-2 victory. McM received a solid pitching performance from Caleb Gonzales, who went five full innings while not allowing a run and striking out five. In the game, the War Hawks managed 10 hits, and were led by Eric Preuss' 3-for-4, 2 RBI day.
The Rams will look to start Bryce Zak on the mound against the War Hawks. Zak is 3-1 on the season with a 5.14 ERA. The last time Zak faced McM, he picked up his first victory of the season, pitching 6.1 innings while striking out three and allowing eight hits.
For the War Hawks, coach John Byington plans to go with Charlie Hejny. Hejny is currently 2-2 on the year with a 4.12 ERA. His last appearance was on March 30, when he did not allow a baserunner in two full innings of work in a 6-0 win over the University of Texas – Permian Basin.
Information for this story provided by HSU Sports Information.