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ENMU Wins Opener 12-11 in Bottom of Seventh, Completes Double-Header Sweep of Savages with 7-4 Victory in Second Game
Balderaz Ties ENMU Record with 8th Save of Season in Game #2

Box Score - Game 3 - ENMU 12, SOSU 11
Box Score - Game 4 - ENMU 7, SOSU 4

PORTALES, N.M. — A pair of Eastern New Mexico University sophomores put the finishing touches on two Lone Star Conference crossover victories over Southeastern Oklahoma State University, 12-11 and 7-4, on Saturday, Mar. 4, as the Greyhounds improved to 16-4 on the season and 8-2 in overall LSC games. Southeastern Oklahoma fell to 3-6 overall, 1-5 in LSC crossover contests.

Derrick Kennedy (So., 3B, San Antonio, TX/G.W. Brackenridge HS) hit into a two-run error against a pulled-in infield in the bottom of the seventh inning for the 12-11 win in the first game of the double-header at Greyhound Field. In the second game, closer Keith Balderaz (So., RHP, Monahans, TX/Monahans HS) tied the ENMU record for saves in a season with his eighth of the year, as he held SOSU scoreless in the seventh inning to secure the 7-4 win.

Balderaz has achieved his eight saves in Eastern's first 20 games. Steve Montoya originally set the record with eight saves during ENMU's 53-game schedule in 1996, when the Greyhounds achieved a 34-19 overall record.

Eastern appeared to be headed toward an easy win in the opener, after the Hounds plated six runs on three hits and three errors in the first inning. The Savages, however, countered with five runs in the third inning and two each in the fourth and fifth stanza to take a 9-6 lead.

Gilbert Alvarado (Sr., LF, Roswell, NM/New Mexico State University) walked to lead-off the game and later scored on a single by Kennedy. Brian Green (Sr., C, Fountain Hills, AZ/Central Arizona College) drove in two more runs in the first inning with a double. Green finished the game 4 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs.

Designated hitter Kelton Hayes (Guthrie, OK/Northlake CC) also recorded an RBI in the first stanza, when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Hayes later scored on a throwing error, while Green completed the scoring when Matt Hinojosa (Sr., SS, Baytown, TX/Laredo CC) hit a double to left field.

SE Oklahoma benefited from five hits and two errors in the top of the third. Chase Langley and Jeremy Barber hit back-to-back singles with one out before Mason Parham drove in the first two runs with a double down the left field line. Parham scored on an error later in the inning. Erik Hughes drove in the final two runs of the stanza with a single that plated Jared Johnson and David Newell.

Parham hit an RBI single and Newell added an RBI double in the fourth inning, as the Savages claimed a 7-6 lead. Colby Oller and Parham each singled to drive in another run in the fifth inning, extending the SOSU lead to 9-6.

Eastern tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, then took the lead with one run in the sixth. Hayes, Green and Jeff Roemer (Jr., 1B/P, Woodbury, MN/Rochester Community and Technical College) recorded consecutive singles to open the fifth. Hayes and Green scored on a single up the middle by Hinojosa and Roemer scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Alvarado.

Justin Gee (Sr., RF, Clovis, NM/Clovis HS) was walked to start the sixth inning. He later scored on a single by Green.

With ENMU ahead 10-9, Balderaz went to the mound in hopes of closing out the win. He struck out Kolby Williams to start the seventh inning, but Langley followed with a bloop single to right. Langley advanced to second on a wild pitch, then Oller struck out. Barber brought home Langley with a single and later scored for the Savages on a double by Newell to left center.

Hinojosa and Alvarado were the first two batters for ENMU in the bottom of the seventh. Both players received walks. David Swinconos (Sr., LHP, Lubbock, TX/Frenship HS) ran for Alvarado. Hinojosa stole third before Ryan French (Sr., CF, Carlsbad, N.M./Trinidad State JC) was walked to load the bases.

The SOSU infield pulled in to prevent the tying run from scoring, but Kennedy's hit toward shortstop was misplayed by Williams. Hinojosa and Swinconos scored on the play, giving ENMU its fifth one-run victory of the season.

In the second game, Eastern trailed 2-1 and the end of two and a half innings, after Langley belted a two-run homer in the top of the second. The Greyhounds rallied with four runs in the bottom of the third to move in front for good.

Hinojosa started the offensive surge with a walk., then reached second on a wild pitch. He scored on a double to left field by French. A balk moved French to third, before Tim Crafton (Jr., OF, Farmington, NM/N.M. Military Institute) drove him home with a sacrifice fly to left. ENMU also received an RBI double from Mike McDuffie (Jr., 2B, Albuquerque, NM/Sandia HS) and an RBI single from Tyler Brown (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Arapahoe CC) to complete the four-run inning.

SOSU registered two runs in the top of the fourth to pull within 5-4, but the Hounds added an insurance run in the bottom of the stanza, before tacking on another run in the fifth. Hinojosa was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a single by Crafton, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher in the fourth. In the fifth, Roemer walked, reached third on a single by Hinojosa and scored on a balk by pitcher Casey Ward.

Neither team scored the rest of the way. Charlie Ward (So., RHP, Roswell, NM/Trinidad State JC), who threw the final 2 1/3 innings for ENMU, picked up the win to improve to 5-0 on the season.

Balderaz, who moved to 2-0 with the pitching victory in the opener, recorded his record-tying save by facing just four batters in the seventh. He forced SOSU into a fly out and a strikeout, before issuing a walk to Langley. Balderaz ended the game by getting Barber to hit a ground out to Hinojosa at shortstop.

The game featured a defensive gem by the Greyhounds in the top of the sixth inning. With Roland Ridling at first base following a one-out single, Hughes hit a hard grounder up the middle to the first base side of second. McDuffie made a diving catch on the grounder about 10 feet behind the baseline. He threw to Hinojosa covering at second for one out. Hinojosa threw a perfect pass to Roemer to just beat Hughes at first base to complete the double-play.

Both teams recorded seven hits in the second game. Barber (2 of 4) and Ridling (2 of 3) each earned two hits for SE Oklahoma. The Greyhound received seven hits from seven different players, including doubles by French, Gee, McDuffie and Hayes.

Barber was 5 for 9 on the day, after going 3 for 5 with three runs and an RBI in the opener. Parham was 0 for 3 in the second game, but went 4 for 5 with two runs scored and 4 RBIs in the first game.

ENMU is scheduled to play a four-game LSC crossover series at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla., on Friday, Mar. 10 and Saturday, Mar. 11. Game time is set for 12 p.m. MST each day.