Tarleton baseball completed the four-game sweep over Eastern New Mexico with a pair of 5-2 wins against the Greyhounds on Sunday at the Cecil Ballow Baseball Complex.
With the wins, the Texans improve to 23-13 overall and are in second place in the Lone Star Conference with an 8-4 league record. The Texans are also 17-2 at home this season, which ties for the best home record in the LSC.
Game 1: Tarleton 5, Eastern New Mexico 2
"The boys came out and played some good baseball," said head coach Bryan Conger. "Evan did a really nice job of navigating some difficult innings and gave us a chance. Offensively we did what was necessary and were able to string some things together."
In the opener, the Texans jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning with Jared McCarver's RBI single to left that scored Elvin Alamo.
Eastern New Mexico responded with a pair of runs in the top half of the second for a 2-1 lead. However, it would be the only lead of the game for the Greyhounds, as the Texans would score runs in the next three innings.
Blake Adams tied the score at 2-2 with a two-out, RBI single to center to score Tyler Fowler.
In the third, Ruben Rodriguez led off the inning with a go-ahead solo home run to left field on a full count for his third long ball of the season. Rodriguez went 2-for-4 at the plate.
Tarleton put up two runs in the fourth inning that started with Fowler's lead off double. Three batters later, the bases were loaded for McCarver, who worked a four-pitch walk for a 4-2 lead. McCarver was 2-for-2 on the day with a pair of RBI and two walks. Francisco Rodriguez made it 5-2 with an RBI single to left that scored Hunter Hudson.
Meanwhile, on the mound for the Texans was Evan Pontley, who picked up his fifth win of the season (5-2) with 5.1 innings of work. Pontley tied a season high with eight strikeouts to go with six hits and just two runs allowed.
Pontley got stronger as the game went on, especially after the Texan offense provided run support for the senior right-hander. Pontley retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth inning, paving the way for Eddie Avila to come in and close out the game.
Avila entered in the sixth inning with two on and one out during a 5-2 game. Avila struck out the first batter on four pitches and got the final out of the inning to fly out to left and escape the jam.
Avila wasted no time in the seventh, as he picked up his seventh save of the season with a three up, three down inning to end the game.
Game 2: Tarleton 5, Eastern New Mexico 2
For the second straight game, Tarleton jumped out to a 1-0 lead, as Ruben Rodriguez scored on a passed ball in the first inning. And like game one, Eastern New Mexico scored two runs in the second inning to take the early advantage.
But the Texans kept chipping away behind timely hitting, quality pitching out of the bullpen and defensive stops to complete the sweep.
McCarver was at it again offensively for the Texans. In the third inning, McCarver ripped a two-out single to center to score Blake Adams and tie the game at 2-2.
In the fourth, the Texans worked a two-out rally to load the bases as Luke Morton was hit by a pitch, followed by Luis Rivas' walk and Adams' single to right. Elvin Alamo followed with a chopper to second and beat out the throw that scored Morton for the go-ahead run and a 3-2 lead.
Five pitchers threw for the Texans, with Trent Stafford getting the start. Stafford went 1.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts.
The Texan bullpen followed with 5.1 innings of no-hit baseball while striking out a combined eight Greyhounds.
"We are all really proud of the pitchers in game two," said head coach Bryan Conger. "They came out and attacked the zone today and it really helped set the tone of game four. Our at-bat's were more consistent in game two and the home run's late were good to see."
Sid Payan came on in the second inning of what was a then 2-1 ENMU lead, and had two runners on with two outs. Payan got the final out of the inning on just one pitch to keep the Texans close. Payan threw the third inning and retired the side in order and struck out the final two batters.
Chris Reed followed in the fourth and struck out the side - all swinging K's - and recorded his first win of the season (1-0).
Still a 3-2 game in the fifth, Connor Flanagan relieved Reed with no outs and two men on. After a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third, Flanagan got a pair of ground outs to third - one resulting in the potential tying run being thrown out at the plate - to get out of the inning with the lead. Flanagan retired the side in order in the sixth to finish his pitching line of two perfect innings of relief with a strikeout.
The Texan offense provided some insurance runs in the sixth in a big way. Tyler Fowler pounded a one-out solo home run to right center for a 4-2 lead. It's Fowler's second home run of the season. Two batters later, Blake Adams smashed his conference-leading ninth home run to left that cleared the netting and landed on Washington St. to give the Texans a 5-2 lead.
Eddie Avila came on for the save in the seventh and had no trouble registering his eighth save of the season. Avila retired all three batters he faced, including strikeouts for the final two outs. With the save, Avila ties Britt Robertshaw for second-most career saves in program history with 14. Avila needs three saves to pass Keith Westberry (1988-91) for the record.
"Eddie was awesome this weekend," added Conger. "He has been so consistent in his day-to-day approach this year and has really started to come into his own."
Tarleton will hit the road next weekend as the Texans travel to Odessa to take on UT Permian Basin for a four-game series beginning Friday, April 13.