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Hounds Score a Pair of 7’s in a Double-Header Sweep Over Northeastern

Box Score - Game #3, ENMU 7, NSU 6
Box Score - Game #4, ENMU 7, NSU 5

TAHLEQUAH, O.K. — By sweeping a double-header over Northeastern State University, 7-6 and 7-5, Eastern New Mexico University took a 3-1 series victory in a Lone Star Conference Crossover match-up at Rousey Field. Keith Balderaz (So., RHP, Monahanns, TX/Monahans HS) provided saves in both wins as the Greyhounds improved their best start in school history to a 13-3 record. The Redmen dropped their record to 2-9 this year.

Eastern never trailed throughout the first game after taking a 3-0 lead on a RBI double by Mike McDuffie (Jr., 2B, Albuquerque, NM/Sandia HS) and Kelton Hayes’ (Jr., DH, Guthrie, OK/Northlake Community College) two RBI single. Northeastern got on the board in the first on a run scoring single by Cody McCarter and caught Eastern with two runs in the second. The Greyhounds retook the lead for good as Hayes recorded his third RBI of the game by driving in Derrick Kennedy (So., 3B, San Antonio, TX/G.W. Brackenridge HS) for the second time. Brian Green’s (Sr., C, Fountain Hills, AZ/Central Arizona College) ground out allowed McDuffie to score for a 5-3 lead.

NSU scored in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit in half. Eastern’s batters gave starter Evan Courteau (Jr., RHP, Minneapolis, MN/Rochester Community College) a three run lead in the fourth as Matt Hinojosa (Sr., SS, Baytown, TX/Laredo Community College) opened up the inning with a double to right centerfield. Hinojosa advanced to third on Ryan French’s (Sr., CF, Carlsbad, NM/Trinandad State Junior College) bunt single. Redmen starter Jacob Parrish loaded the bases with a walk to Kennedy. With two outs, McDuffie’s grounder to second base led to a fielding error which allowed French and Hinojosa to get across the plate. Northeastern cut the deficit to one run by scoring twice in the bottom of the fourth.

Courteau pitched a 1-2-3 fifth on his way to his third win of the season against one loss. Seven of the eight hits Courteau allowed were singles, as he gave up five earned runs while striking out three Redmen. Charlie Ward (So., RHP, Roswell, NM/Trinadad State Junior College) relieved Courteau in the sixth and struck out two of the three batters he faced. Balderaz recorded his sixth save of the season with a three-up and three-down seventh inning.

Game two starters Seth Clabaugh (Fr., LHP, Portales, NM/Angelo State University) for Eastern and Tim Neal for Northeastern started out very solid as each gave up a single hit in the first two innings. ENMU took the lead in the third on a sacrifice bunt by French and an error by the shortstop off Micah Bernhardt’s (Sr., 2B, Gypsum, CO/Arapahoe Community College) bat to get Hinojosa home from third base. After Clabaugh limited the Redmen to a walk in the third, Eastern scored twice in the fourth on a RBI double by Tyler Brown, who later scored on a Hinojosa single for a 3-0 lead. Northeastern got on the scoreboard with two runs in the bottom of the inning as Clabaugh had control problems. NSU scored its runs on only one hit, a RBI double by Eric Humphrey, after a lead-off walk and a hit batman were put on the base paths. Northeastern’s second run came on another walk with the bases loaded. McDuffie handled a grounder by Jerad Mixon and tossed the ball to Hinojosa covering second base for the third out to get Clabaugh out of the jam with three runners left on base.

The Greyhounds faced their first deficit of the game as the Redmen scored three times in the bottom of the fifth. The runs came on only one hit, as three runners reached on fielder’s choices, two walks and another hit batsman led to a 5-4 lead for NSU. Eastern tied it in the sixth, as Hinojosa doubled off reliever Jonathan Wygle with one out and was able score on a sacrifice fly by Bernhardt. Ward took the mound in the sixth to keep the score tied at five.

In the top of the seventh, Justin Gee (Sr., RF, Clovis, NM/Clovis HS) led off the inning with a single off NSU’s third reliever, Brian Schroeder. Gee advanced to second on a single by McDuffie. New reliever Andrew Brewer gave up a bunt single to Stephen Lopez-Barela (Fr., PH, Alamogordo, NM/Alamogordo HS) to load the bases. Eastern’s go-ahead run came as Brown reached on a fielder’s choice. Tim Crafton (Jr., LF, Farmington, NM/New Mexico Military Institute) also reached on a fielder’s choice which allowed McDuffie to score for a 7-5 advantage. The pitching combo of set-up man Ward and closer Balderaz went into effect in the sixth inning to keep the Redmen at bay and provide Eastern with the win.

Ward recorded the win to remain undefeated with a 3-0 record. Clabaugh was solid, giving up only three hits in five innings, but was hurt by five walks and three hit batsmen. Balderaz added another save and increased his total to seven this season. McDuffie had a solid day at the plate, going 6-8, with one RBI and three runs scored. Hayes provided a 3-7 performance at the plate with four RBIs.

ENMU returns to Greyhound Field for a weekend series against Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The first double header in the LSC Crossover series will be on Friday, Mar. 3 at 1 p.m. MST. The series will conclude on Saturday, Mar. 4 with the first seven inning game slated to start at 12 p.m. MST.