Crusaders off to rocky start with 1-2 weekend

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The Unviersity of Dallas men’s baseball team hopes to rebound after a shaky opening to their season. University of Dallas Photo

The University of Dallas baseball team started off their season at home against the Sul Ross State University Lobos by splitting Saturday’s double-header.  The temperature outside was cold, and substantial winds pushed through the diamond from time to time.

In the first game, senior pitcher Ryan Hammonds went all seven innings trying his lot at a perfect game before giving up a lone hit to the Lobos in the seventh, taking the shutout instead.  Hammonds was on fire this past weekend, fanning 10 throughout the game and retiring the first 18 batters he faced.

The Crusaders only had one run to win the game, and thanks to Hammond’s performance it proved to be enough. The Crusaders and Lobos were locked in a stalemate until senior Zach San Roman launched a solo shot past the left field gate to lead off the third.

Hammonds fell just short of earning his stripes by allowing Johnny Campos, the leadoff hitter for the Lobos, to lace a single through the defenders in right field to muddy the perfect game.

Hammonds did not let this faze him though, as he retired the next three batters on a strikeout, a flyout to center and a ground out to the freshman third baseman Nathan Patton.

Unfortunately, the Crusaders were not as lucky in the second and third games, in which they dropped 4-8 and 0-4, respectively.

“After this weekend, we have some things to improve on to give us a better chance to win the game,” Patton said. “The goal of every series is to win the series.  We know what it takes to win.  I believe we will improve substantially in all aspects of the game going forward.  We all want to reach the conference tournament and compete in the tournament.  I believe we will respond to the adversity from this weekend very well.”

In the second game, the Lobos drew first blood in the second frame with a single into left field.  The Crusaders were plagued by errors as the Sul Ross left fielder reached on the first of five.

Dallas got their revenge in the fourth frame when senior infielder JP Fasone and sophomore first baseman Brice Cell tallied two singles to start a rally. A fielder’s choice opportunity enabled Cell to reach third.

On the next play, sophomore third baseman Mark Peterson was walked to set up a big hit for the designated hitter. Sophomore infielder Seth Hanson doubled down the left field line to open the scoring for the Crusaders. Peterson was able to score on the next at bat as sophomore Paul Scioli reached on a wild pitch after striking out.

The Lobos struck back in the seventh frame with five unanswered runs of their own, and the Crusaders would not reclaim the lead. A hit by pitch and a walk with the bases full insured that the Lobos ended the inning up 3-6 over the Crusaders. Fasone got a run back in the bottom of the seventh frame on a single, but the Lobos added on two more insurance runs in the ninth to secure the game.

The Lobos ended up coming up with a shutout of their own in the rubber game on Sunday, winning 0-4 off of starter Cody Remore’s pitching performance. The Crusaders were plagued by errors once again as they gave up a pair of runs in the second frame, giving the Lobos an early edge. Remore gave up three hits, walked only two and struck out six to get the complete game shutout.

Sul Ross would go on to add an unearned run in both the third and fourth frames in order to secure the win. Hanson had the first hit for the Crusaders, but unfortunately ended up being thrown out at second for trying to stretch the hit.  The Crusaders’ hopes were not over yet, as Fasone lead off with a double to center. Peterson came in to pinch hit and succeeded. The inning ended, however, when Remore landed the third strike and Fasone got out at third from the runners trying to advance on the play.

Freshman Zachary Taylor shared Patton’s sentiment.

“We have the pieces to make a great season of baseball this year,” Taylor said. “We have great pitching and a lineup full of players that can swing the bat well. The goal is always to take two out of the three in the series or get the complete sweep. We may have only taken one out of three this week, but after we touch up on spots that need to be worked on, there is no doubt in my mind that this team will reach its goals and be the team to beat in this conference.”

Both Patton and Taylor are freshmen in their second semester at the UD and have high hopes in helping the team reach the fourth spot in the standings by the end of the year in order to compete in the conference tournament.

The Crusaders will remain in the metropolis this weekend as they play several games at Quick Trip Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. They take on Hendrix College on Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.  They will then face two other teams, matching up against Concordia University on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. and Hardon-Simmons University on Sunday Feb. 12 at 4 p.m.

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