HOBBS, N.M. — The Central Christian College of Kansas baseball team kicked off their season this past weekend, as they travelled to Hobbs, New Mexico, to take on the University of the Southwest Mustangs in a four game series over two days. The Tigers would drop the first three games 2-8, 3-5, and 0-4 before pulling out the victory in the series finale 4-3 for Coach Stephen McNett's first win.
The Tigers' struggles came in three main areas this weekend: walking too many opposing hitters, committing defensive errors, and leaving runners on base on the offensive end. Coach McNett handed the ball to JJ Castelvecchi to start off the season. The junior transfer held the mustangs in check for the first two innings, but hit a snag in the third. He would walk the first two batters to lead off the inning, and then a bunt single loaded the bases for the Mustangs. The next batter would hit a sacrifice fly, advancing all three baserunners for the Mustangs first run of the game. Then the Mustangs would score two more off of a double, and a fourth run from another sacrifice fly. Castelvecchi would come back out for the fourth inning, giving up another run. The Tigers would then turn to Kyler Jay in relief, and he would give up another three runs to the Mustangs on four hits and two walks. The Tiger offense struggled with getting the bat on the ball, as they only tallied three hits, but did have five walks. Unfortunately they only translated into two runs and left seven baserunners stranded.
In game two, the Tigers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after JD Noey's single brought in Tyler Brown and Nate Patterson. The Mustangs would answer back with a run in the second, but Kyle Fenoglio would work out of a jam with runners at second and third. Shomari Cann would add a run for the Tigers in the third, and the Mustangs would close the gap again in the fourth, making it a 3-2 ball game. In the sixth, Ethan Keywas on the mound for the Tigers and the Mustangs would strike for three runs, as nine batters would go up to bat in the inning that included a costly error by Steven Monarres on a bunt, and a hit batter. The Tigers had five total errors in game two, and they would fall 3-5.
Game three featured an outstanding pitching performance by the Mustangs, as their starter went 6 1/3 innings, giving up just five hits, two walks, and 0 runs while striking out eight batters. The Mustangs' reliever would get the final two outs of the game easily. The Tigers' starter Garrick Johnson also had a solid outing, going five innings, giving up just two earned runs on fourth hits, with another run being unearned. Dylan Powell came in to pitch for the Tigers in the sixth and proceeded to walk the first three batters he faced. The Tiger coaching staff then went to Casey Southwick who worked his way out of the inning giving up only one run on a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately the Tigers would leave the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, and the game ended at 0-4.
In the final game of the series, Jared Jones took the mound for the Tigers and went to work. He pitched all seven innings, giving up three total runs (two earned) on three hits, zero walks, and six strikeouts. It was an error filled game for both teams, as the Tigers ended with six errors in the game, and the Mustangs had three. But the Mustangs' errors turned out to be far more costly. The Tiger offense didn't come to life until the fifth inning, when Josh Clyden scored off a wild throw by the Mustangs' catcher and Ryan Mota scored off Harrison Woods' RBI single. Still down 2-3, the Tigers came right back in the sixth inning and scored two more runs, with Tyler Brown driving in Justin Freas and Harrison Woods scoring Josh Clyden on a fielder's choice to take the 4-3 lead. That would prove to be enough for Jared Jones, as he shut out the Mustangs in the final two innings for the win.
The Tigers will play in their home opener on Tuesday afternoon, as they welcome Bethany College to town. First pitch is set for 2 p.m..