Lutheran Captures First ASC Baseball Championship
May 9, 2005
Courtesy of TLU Sports Information
MARSHALL, Texas ---- ASC West Division champion Texas Lutheran came back from a 7-1 third inning deficit to beat Hardin-Simmons 10-7 and earn its first American Southwest Conference baseball title. The Bulldogs (33-8) earn a berth to the NCAA Division III Championship tournament, with announcement of the regional pairings coming May 16.
Trailing 7-1, TLU catcher Aaron Crais, the conference tournament MVP, belted a three-run home run in the third inning and added a solo blast in the fifth to jump-start the Bulldogs' comeback. Crais' three-run shot cut Hardin-Simmons' lead to 7-4 and his solo homer brought TLU within a run, at 7-6. Crais finished the tournament with three home runs and nine RBI.
"Aaron Crais got us back into that game," said Bill Miller, Texas Lutheran head coach. "His three-run home run was such a lift for us after we fell behind (Hardin-Simmons). I told the guys that anything can happen in this ball park and that we just needed to keep fighting."
In the seventh inning, Texas Lutheran took its first lead on what proved to be a game-winning home run by right fielder Marc Savard. The senior launched a Kurtis Lay fastball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run, giving TLU a 9-7 lead. The Bulldogs added another run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly from John Krog.
With Crais and Savard providing the offensive surge, redshirt freshman Austin Yager shut down the Hardin-Simmons offense over 5-1/3 innings of work. Yager relieved TLU starter Adam Enloe in the third inning after Enloe was roughed up for seven earned runs and nine hits.
Yager, a right-hander, used his fastball, changeup and curveball to keep the Cowboys off-balance, striking out four, walking none and allowing only three hits in facing 19 batters.
"Austin was absolutely amazing for us in giving us such a lift," said Miller. "I knew we could come around offensively if we could get on a little bit of a roll on the mound. Austin did a great job of getting ahead of hitters and in giving our defense a chance to make plays behind him."
Yager (3-0) handed the ball to closer Jeff Paras for the ninth. Paras earned his seventh save of the year by striking out Elliot Strader to end the game with runners at second and third. The strikeout set off a wild celebration near the mound as the Bulldogs piled onto Paras.
Texas Lutheran will represent the ASC in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, which begins with regional tournament play May 19-22 at eight regional sites to be determined. Hardin-Simmons likely ends its season with an overall mark of 28-19. The Cowboys advanced to Monday's championship game after elimination wins Saturday over Concordia-Austin and host East Texas Baptist.
2005 ASC Baseball Championship All-Tournament
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