PLAINVIEW, Texas (February 18, 2014) – Four Pioneer home runs were the difference Tuesday afternoon, as Gaby De La Cruz produced a pair of home runs and five runs-batted-in to help Wayland Baptist University defeat Lubbock Christian University 10-5 at a windy Wilder Field.
The wind was blowing out with gusts over 30 MPH, but the Pioneers were the only team taking advantage of it. Damion Lovato went deep to lead-off the bottom of the second inning and Mark Davis (third inning) and De La Cruz (fourth inning) each followed with three-run homers. WBU's first RBI produced, not off a home run, came in the fourth inning, with Lovato singling in a run for an 8-1 lead. The Pioneers had only hit three home runs through 11 prior games this season.
Jarret Porter took the brunt of the WBU offense. The LCU hurler allowed seven runs off seven hits in three innings of work. He allowed WBU's first three homers. Ryan Taylor came in to relieve Porter and his outing was scary at first. The first three batters faced (and four out of five) each reached base, but then he settled down to retire eight straight batters and faced 11 consecutive batters without allowing a hit. While Taylor was quieting the WBU bats, the Chaps offense could not get into any rhythm. After Wigberto Nevarez hit into a double play in the third inning with the bases loaded (one of three LCU double plays hit into), LCU was only able to get two consecutive batters on base on two occasions over the following five innings. Jesse Pintado was 4-for-4 with three of his hits coming with two outs for LCU. Brandon Wilson, next in the lineup, followed in the fifth inning with a two-run home run (LCU trailed 8-3) and then followed a Pintado single in the seventh inning with a single to place two on base for Joel Lutz, but Lutz sent a fly ball to left-centerfield that was caught against the wall by left fielder Lovato. Lutz's home run bid was one of four balls tracked down at the warning track by WBU outfielders and one of three balls the outfielders caught against the wall.
Taylor's relief appearance was running smooth until a one-out single by Chris Buitron in the eighth inning ended the sequence of batters without a hit for WBU. De La Cruz followed with a two-run homer for his second dinger of the game, which provided WBU a 10-3 lead. Pintado and Wilson connected again with back-to-back hits for a third straight at-bat, and their at-bats in the ninth inning were back-to-back RBI-doubles to close the scoring at 10-5.
LCU out-hit WBU 13-12, but the four homers had LCU in too big of a hole to climb out of. Craig Cook claimed the win for WBU. He allowed three runs off nine hits and struck out five batters in 6.2 innings of work to improve to 1-1 on the season. Taylor went five innings in relief for LCU and allowed three runs off five hits and struck out six batters.
Wilson finished 3-for-4 with three RBI to join Pintado's season high matching four hits as LCU's best offensive production. Nevarez scored LCU's first run in the top of the first inning with a bases loaded sacrifice fly. Five Pioneers had multi-hit performances, with De La Cruz finishing 2-for-4 with five RBI. Davis drove in three runs and Lovato drove in two as part of their 2-for-3 plate appearances.
The loss ends LCU's win streak at two games and they are now 1-3 on the road this season, with three straight road losses. The Chaps are 5-5 on the season. WBU improves to 7-5. The meeting was the 97th all-time meeting between the two programs and the first in which LCU is not a NAIA member. The Chaps now head into Heartland Conference action and play their first ever Heartland Conference contest Friday at 1 p.m. against Texas A&M International University at Hays Field. The first game, scheduled for seven innings, will be followed by a nine-inning contest to complete the doubleheader.