LAWTON, Okla. – Tarleton continued to take care of its own destiny to keep pace in the race for the Lone Star Conference title as the Texans swept both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader at McCord Field in Lawton against Cameron.
The Texans are three games behind West Texas A&M, who split a doubleheader with Texas A&M-Kingsville Saturday. Tarleton will close out the regular season tomorrow against Cameron while West Texas A&M has one more game with Kingsville and a four-game series against Angelo State next weekend.
Game 1: Tarleton 5, Cameron 4
Tarleton survived a seventh-inning scare in the opening game of the twin bill as Nathan Hickey earned his ninth win of the season on the mound and Eddie Avila set the school single-season record for saves at 13, topping Ryan Turner’s mark of 12.
The Texans struck first in the top of the third when Ruben Rodriguez and Luke Morton doubled and singled in back-to-back at bats with two away to score the first run of the game. The slim lead carried into the bottom of the fifth before Cameron scored two to take its only lead of the day at 2-1.
Tarleton quickly turned things back around by answering with a two spot of its own in the sixth when Blake Adams ripped a two-RBI single into left to put Tarleton back on top 3-2. After Hickey worked around a one-out triple to keep the Aggies off the board in the sixth, Tarleton added two more in the seventh on a bases-loaded hit by pitch from Francisco Rodriguez and the final run that came across on a double play for a 5-2 lead.
Avila came on for the seventh and, despite giving up a two-run homer, battled to lock down his 13th save. Hickey improved to 9-2 on the season with six innings of work while striking out nine before Avila tossed the final frame.
Ruben Rodriguez led the offense with a 3-3 day with two runs scored while Morton also had a two-hit day. Adams, Francisco, and Tyler Fowler had one hit each to round out the eight-hit effort.
Game 2: Tarleton 11, Cameron 0
Tarleton’s offense put up 11 runs to support a complete-game, 11-strikeout performance by Evan Pontley to complete the doubleheader sweep.
The Texans struck quickly with single runs over the first two innings. Jared McCarver got Tarleton on the board with an RBI single in the first and then Jake Hasbrouck led off the second with a home run for a 2-0 Tarleton lead.
That lead would carry into the fifth before Tarleton broke the game open with five in the fifth, starting when Hunter Hudson, Blake Adams, and Elvin Alamo loaded the bases to start the frame. Ruben Rodriguez coaxed a bases-loaded walk for an RBI then Luke Morton followed up with a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning and a 4-0 lead. Tarleton kept it going with an RBI fielder’s choice from Francisco Rodriguez and a two-run, two-out error by the Aggies that put the Texans on top 7-0.
After a scoreless sixth, Tarleton added four more in the seventh for good measure.
The first three runs came on back-to-back doubles from Hudson and Adams. Hudson drove in one with his two-bagger while Adams’ was a two-RBI hit. Ruben Rodriguez capped off the scoring with an RBI single later in the inning.
Ruben was the only Texan with a multi-hit game, going 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, but every other starter had at least one hit for the game – Adams, Alamo, Morton, McCarver, Hasbrouck, Francisco, Fowler, and Hudson.
Meanwhile, Evan Pontley was cruising. The senior right-hander went all seven innings while striking out a career-high 11 batters while improving to 8-2 on the mound.
Tarleton and Cameron will close out the series today at 1 p.m. in Lawton. It will be the final game of the regular season for the Texans.