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Line Drives -- ASC's Weekly Baseball Notebook
March 23, 2004

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AROUND THE CONFERENCE
Compiled from information submitted by ASC sports information directors.

Several key match-ups in each division highlight the third weekend of conference play in American Southwest Conference baseball. . . . The ASC West will sport a new division leader following the Friday-Saturday series between conference undefeated (6-0) co-leaders Hardin-Simmons and Texas Lutheran who met in Seguin. The three third-place teams—Concordia-Austin, McMurry and Mary Hardin-Baylor—each have chances to gain ground with series scheduled against the last three squads in the ASC West. . . . The ASC East leader #18-ranked Mississippi College plays host to league newcomer UT Tyler, tied at second-place in the division with UT Dallas who travels to fourth-place East Texas Baptist. Louisiana College, also tied in fourth-place, hosts LeTourneau.

Sophomore P Steve Smith had a stellar performance in the opening game of last weekend's Concordia-Mary Hardin-Baylor series in Belton. In a pitcher’s duel with UMHB hurler Kyle Furrer, Smith outlasted his challenger and kept Crusader batters of balance all night allowing only five hits, one earned run and striking out seven in a full nine-inning game (Mar. 19). Smith walked only two batters and improved his season record to 3-1. . . . The Tornados won two-of-three against UMHB to move from fifth into a third-place tie in the ASC West.

East Texas Baptist junior leadoff hitter Trey Luster went on a tear against Austin College in the Tigers' three-game sweep last weekend (Mar. 19-20), hitting 6-for-9 with seven runs, four RBI and two homers in the series. Luster led off game three on Saturday with a home run that got the Tigers rolling in an 11-4 win. . . . Freshman SS Nick Martinek had perhaps his best week as a Tiger last week, going 8-for-13 (.615) with nine runs, five RBI, a double and two triples in four games played. . . . Senior C Tommy Edwards had 12 RBI in five games last week, going 8-for-18 with a pair of homers.

RHP Brian Whitworth came out of the bullpen and earned four of the six wins for Hardin-Simmons last week. The senior was dominating in two performances including Saturday's final game in the Sul Ross State series (Mar. 20) when he went 3.1 innings allowing two hits while striking out three in the 9-7 Cowboys' victory. Whitworth worked 13.2 innings totaling seven strikeouts and five earned runs while giving-up 15 hits. . . . HSU hit .428 as a team in its last six ASC West games with nine home runs and a .677 slugging percentage. . . . Junior Michael Popino was 13-for-22 (.591) with 10 RBI over the division-opening games. Popino and Michael Simpson (.542) were joined by Andy Harrington, who hit.571 with two homers and eight RBI, and Brad Coleman, 10-for-20 (.500) with six RBI, as HSU starters hitting better than .500 in last week's games. . . . Hardin-Simmons is eight games over .500 for the first time since the 2001 season.

Howard Payne got back on the winning track with wins in both ends of last Saturday's (Mar. 20) doubleheader against McMurry. The back-to-back wins halted a 14-game losing skid. . . . Senior RF Javier San Miguel sparked the Yellow Jackets' offense with three hits—two for doubles—in eight at-bats over the McMurry doubleheader. San Miguel hit safely in all six games last week to finish the stretch batting .375 (9-for-24) with four doubles and five RBI, including a sacrifice fly in the middle game of the March 15 Hardin-Simmons tripleheader. . . . Junior P Gilbert Arispe collected the 2-0 game one win at McMurry, working 6.2 innings and striking out five in the shutout.

Sophomore 1B Jeremy Burgess lifted LeTourneau to a win with his two hit, three-RBI performance in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against UT Dallas (Mar. 20). Burgess hit his first career home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to close the Comets’ lead to 3-2 and then tied up the score in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run single. LeTourneau went on to hand UTD a 5-4 loss. Burgess continued his hot hitting in the second game with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI, and added a run when he stole home. . . . LHP Demetri White struck out a season-high 11 batters in 6.0 innings against UTD (Mar. 20). WHite walked four and allowed seven hits. White opened the UTD series belting his first home run of the season in Friday's 14-4 loss (Mar. 19). . . . YellowJackets' top hitter Matt Neighbors also collected his season-first home run during Friday's series-opening game. Neighbors carries a .352 batting average into this weekend's ASC East road series at Louisiana College (Mar. 26-27).

Louisiana College upended non-conference LSU-Shreveport 5-2 last Tuesday (Mar. 16) before dropping two-of-three at UT Tyler over the weekend (Mar. 19-20). . . . Dustyn Parker slugged three home runs in the first game of the UT Tyler series. His last blast sent the game into extra innings. . . . P James Halle, named the March 8-14 Louisiana Sportswriters Association and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pitcher of the Week, tossed his second complete game win with Saturday's 8-2 win at UT Tyler. Halle remains undefeated (4-0) on the hill.

Mary Hardin-Baylor INF Heath Haverland hit safely in four of his five appearances last week and hit a key RBI triple in the Crusaders' 10-6 win over Cardinal Stritch (Mar. 17). The senior also drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th inning UMHB’s 4-3 win over Concordia (Mar. 20) to cap a 3-for-4 game at the plate. Haverland hit a combined .375 (6-for-16) and stole a pair of bases over the five-game week. . . . Senior hurler Ryan Gotcher pitched nine solid innings in Saturday's CUA win. Gotcher allowed two earned runs and struck out three batters while scattering five hits. . . . UMHB has played three extra inning games this season finishing 3-0 in those games. . . . Dean Shirley had two hits in each of the three games against Concordia and to record a 6-for-13 (.462), two RBI, two runs scored series. . . . UMHB pitchers allowed just five earned runs vs. the Tornados. . . . The Crusaders have six more games scheduled this week and are in the middle of a seven game home stand.

McMurry won both ends of its March 15 ASC West doubleheader at Concordia and game one of its home series vs. Howard Payne (Mar. 19) before dropping Saturday's twinbill vs. HPU (Mar. 20). One of the losses to Howard Payne was a 2-0 shutout and marked the first time McMurry has been shut out at home and first overall since 2001. The Indians had gone 117 consecutive games without being held scoreless. . . . 2B/DH Jason Gotcher led McMurry's offense with eight hits, including four multi-hit games, in last week's five games. Gotcher complted the stretch hitting .471 (8-for-17) and scoring three runs. . . . RHP Josh Lee struck out a career-high 13 batters while allowing only two earned runs in McMurry's series-opening 15-4 victory vs. HPU (Mar. 19). Lee sat down five of the first seven batters faced via strikeout. From the other side of the plate, Lee leads McMurry in home runs (9), RBI (26), batting average (.386), extra-base hits (12), total bases (52), slugging pct. (912), walks (15) and on-base pct. (.514). . . . Sophomore RF/P Greg Erickson drove home eight runs last week, and leads the team with two multi-home run games.

Mississippi College junior right-hander Craig Howze upped his season record to 3-0 with a dominating performance vs. Ozarks in the first game of last weekend's ASC East series. Howze started against the Eagles, striking out nine batters in six innings and working a shutout through five complete in the 9-5 Choctaws' victory (Mar. 19). . . . The Choctaws blasted six homeruns against Ozarks in the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader (Mar. 20) to post a 10-6 win. . . . MC is undefeated in its six ASC East games. The Choctaws have two non-conference games scheduled before the weekend showdown against second-place UT Tyler (Mar. 26-27).

Ozarks' C Clint Phifer has hit safely in each of his last five games and in seven of the last eight games. In four appearances last week, Phifer batted .400 (6-for-15) with three RBI. He opened the week going 2-for-3 with two RBI vs. College of the Ozarks (Mar. 17). . . . Trevor Holbert and Bret Hays each smashed their second home runs of the season against College of the Ozarks. Hays ended the game going 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. . . . Caleb Hilton collected five hits during the four-game stretch and upped his batting average to a team-leading .385. Hilton and Rusty Farrin each hit their first home runs of the season in Friday's Mississippi College series-opener (Mar. 19).

In the best pitching performance by anyone on the Schreiner pitching staff this season, junior Jake Thomas threw a conference record-tying 11 complete innings facing only 37 batters in Saturday's 1-0 loss to ASC West-leading Texas Lutheran (Mar. 20). Thomas carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings, before surrendering a base hit and only faced four batters in an inning three times. Only three TLU batters reached second base—two on errors and the third the game-winning run. Thomas matched his TLU counterpart Brian Wallace for the ASC record. . . . Schreiner's offensive leader Joe Mann holds team highs in slugging percentage (.507), hits (24), runs (17), RBI (18), home runs (3), total bases (37) and walks (11). . . . The Mountaineers' pitching has struggled lately, giving up double-digit runs in six out of the last 12 games.

Matt Endsley staked claim to the starting spot at second base and the leadoff spot in the batting order by playing solid defense, and continually sparking the UT Dallas offense. Endsley scored nine runs over five games last week while hitting .533 (8-for-15), including hitting three home runs. Endsley helped UTD remain second in the ASC East by going 4-for-5 with three RBI and four runs scored in Saturday's final game of the LeTourneau series (Mar. 20). . . . The Comets won 5-of-6 games last week, but are still kicking themselves for the “one that got away”—a 5-4, bottom-of-the-seventh loss to LeTourneau in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader. Staff ace Tony Adler had staked the Comets to a 4-2 lead entering the final frame, but LeTourneau scored three runs off a pair of relievers to rally for the win. . . . Adler, who only gave up three hits in 6.0 innings of work, did finally give up a pair of earned runs—his first of the season. . . . 1B Lawrence Valbuena hit .500 (8-for-16) with six RBI over the middle week of March. . . . UTD has had just one base runner thrown out in 14 steal attempts this season.

UT Tyler offensive leader Justin Ard batted .556 (5-for-9) against Louisiana College last weekend to cap a .500 hitting performance (6-for-12) over four games last week. Ard has hit safely in 11 of the last 12 games with a seven-game hit streak intact as the Patriots ready for a pair of non-conference mid-week games before a key ASC East road trip to division-leading Mississippi College on Friday and Saturday (Mar. 26-27).

Texas Lutheran looks to extend its ASC West win streak when its hosts division co-leader Hardin-Simmons in this weekend's first-place showdown (Mar. 26-27). TLU has won 12 straight division regular season games, including six this season. . . . LF Casey Rehfeld hit .471 (8-for-17) during the week and .538 (7-for-13) during the conference series with Schreiner (Mar. 19-20). In game one of the SU series, Rehfeld was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. In game three of the series, he was 2-for-3 with three runs, two hits, a walk and a stolen base. TLU’s leadoff hitter, Rehfeld raised his on-base percentage to .494 and his batting average to .397, and is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak. . . . DH Tim Beecham had six RBI and two home runs during the week, hitting a solo home run on Friday and a three-run home run in Saturday's final game in the Schreiner series. Beecham leads TLU in home runs (5) and is second on the squad in RBI (21).


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