Saturday was one strange day of baseball at Nolan Ryan. The weather was nice, a temperate 77 degrees with a strong breeze, but most of the oddities were on the field as the Javelinas swept the doubleheader winning 3-1 and 9-6.
Freshman Shane Veeder got his first start of his collegiate career in game one. He ran into some trouble early on in the first inning, giving up an RBI to Cody Knight, but settled in for the rest of the game. He spread four hits and one run over 4.2 innings of work, striking out three and hitting three batters with pitches.
“We got a good pitching staff that make it look pretty easy, but it’s not as easy at they’re making it look”, Coach Jason Gonzales said.
The offense, however struggled for much of the game. The Javelinas put men in scoring position in four straight innings, and were unable to cash them in.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning when the Javelinas finally had a breakthrough. Aggie pitcher Dirk Masters surrendered back to back walks to Wesley Aguilar and Brayton Carlson. Dalton Perry doubled, plating Aguilar. Carlson would come around later to score when Ruben Almaguer reached first on a throwing error by the shortstop.
Then in the sixth things took a turn for the strange. Miles Holcomb came in to pinch hit for catcher Hunter Lehmen and blasted a long drive to center. He rounded second as the relay throw came in, sliding into third. However, the Aggie second baseman fumbled the relay and the third base coach Phillip Middleton urged Holcomb to get up and head home. Holcomb slid safely into home as the throw sailed over the catcher’s head.
“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball, hit something hard and run as fast as a could”, Holcomb said, “There was a little bit of confusion because guys have been slipping and falling on the dirt, but you gotta do what you gotta do to win.”
From there the inning only got weirder. Wesley Aguilar, the next batter in the order, was promptly plunked in the head and on the very next pitch Brayton Carlson was nailed on the inside. Initially the home plate umpire called it a foul ball off the hands, but after a quick conference with the field umpire, he reversed it and sent Carlson to first.
Cameron Head Coach Brady Huston was displeased with this call and angrily ran out to the home plate to argue his case. After about a minute of increasing fury, Huston was tossed from the game, and from there he verbally tore into the umpire for about a minute more before storming off the field.
This is the third year in a row that Huston had been tossed out of a game at Nolan Ryan Field. As per NCAA rules he was not allowed to coach in the second game.
Coach Huston’s passionate display could not fire up the Cameron Aggies enough to rally back as the Javelinas took game one, 3-1 with reliever Jako Kelm receiving the win.
Game two began with a semblance of normalcy. The Aggies struck early in the second when they put up a three-run spot, all with two outs.
However, the Javelinas unleashed a barrage of offense in the third inning. It began with a Brayton Carlson lead-off single. Then Dalton Perry dribbled a grounder to pitcher Javarias Banks who picked it up and threw to his second baseman Jonathan Reyes who was standing on the bag for what looked to be routine 1-4-3 double play. However, shortstop Tyler McKinzie reached out for the throw, colliding with Reyes and causing the ball ricochet of his glove and into center field. Carlson hustled around third to score the first Javelina run of the game.
After pitching two solid inning of three strikeout, two hit work, Banks completely fell apart, giving up four hits, two walks and seven runs, six unearned.
The Javelinas ended up putting all nine of their runs up in the third, with each member of the starting batting lineup scoring one each. Eight of those runs came with no one out. The Hoggies nearly batted around twice, though the six hole batter Zach Smith was the final out of the inning.
Hunter Perkins ran into some more trouble in the sixth giving up two more runs before being relieved by Preston Plovanich, who surrendered another unearned run to push the Aggies within six runs, 9-6.
However, Trey Taylor closed out the final inning, walking one and striking out two in his second save of the season.
This was the 10th straight victory for the Javelinas, a series win over a tough, nationally ranked conference opponent.
“We tell them all the time, you never know when your big inning is gonna come”, Coach Gonzales said, “They’re a fun group to coach because they don’t care who gets the credit, they’re a bunch of brothers who love pulling for each other.”
The Javelinas move to 10-3 on the year and 3-0 in conference play. They have now one 10 games in a row, one game shy of the record set in 1997.
The Cameron Aggies fall to 11-3 and 0-3 in LSC play after coming into the series undefeated and ranked number ten nationally in one poll.
Both teams will face off in the final game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m. at Nolan Ryan Field.