A great pitching dual between McMurry's Aaron Burns and St. Mary's Carl O'Neal turned into the War Hawks first walk-off loss of the season as McM dropped a 4-3 decision to the Rattlers on Friday.
Burns out-dueled O'Neal, as he went 7.1 innings of work, allowing just six hits and striking out eight while not allowing a single run in the contest. O'Neal worked 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out two. However, neither pitchers would get a decision in the contest, as both starters left the game with the score tied, 0-0.
After getting just one runner to third base through the first eight innings of play, the War Hawks were finally able to break through in the top of the ninth inning against closer, Jonathan Perez. Back-to-back walks to Cody Howard and Greg Koll left Howard standing on second base with two outs in the inning. Ricky Garcia then came through with a clutch RBI single to center field, scoring Howard, to give McM the 1-0 lead. After Koll stole third and Garcia moved to second on the play, they were both brought in on another RBI single, this time off the bat of AJ Dupre, to extend the lead to 3-0.
However, the Rattlers would get back at the War Hawks in the bottom of the ninth, striking hard against McM's closer, Jared Hopper. After Hopper walked the first two batters, Mario Maldonado singled in the first run to cut the score to 3-1. Hopper then walked another batter to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly cut the advantage again, 3-2, with two outs.
With runners on first and second base, a single into center field and an error by Ruben Zendejas allowed the first runner to score, and the second runner to come all the way around from first base to notch the game-winner, 4-3, in walk-off fashion.
Offensively, Zendejas was the only War Hawk to register multiple hits as he went two-for-four on the day. Casey Berryman, Howard, Koll, Garcia and Dupre all had one base hit in the game, with Dupre driving in a pair.
The War Hawks finish the season with an overall record of 23-27 in their first season in NCAA Division II competition. With the 10-2 victory over St. Mary's yesterday, the War Hawks own the distinction of being the only team in the conference to not lose the season-series against the Rattlers (McM tied St. Mary's 3-3.) McMurry also showed well against the rest of the conference this season, losing just two out of the eight season-series (4-2 vs. UTPB and 2-0 vs. Oklahoma Christian), on route to a 22-19 record against Heartland opponents.
Information for this story provided by McMurry Athletics.