Conference hopes still alive after Centenary sweeps Crusaders during the 3-game series

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Senior pitcher Ryan Hammonds takes the mound in the Crusaders’ game against Centenary College of Louisiana.University of Dallas Photo.

It was a nice weekend for baseball at the Centenary College of Louisiana as the University of Dallas Crusaders took on the  Gents in a 3 game series, with a doubleheader on Saturday and the final game on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the Crusaders would fall in all three games, two of them shutouts. Now, with a 2-7 record in conference play, they have their work cut out for them if they want to stay in the running for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament.

“It was a rough series this past weekend, but we realized that we can still make the conference tournament,” freshman third baseman Nathan Patton said. “In order for us to make the tournament we have to figure out how to win and figure it out quick. We have dug ourselves a deep hole and now it’s time for us to face adversity and climb out of that hole.”

There was no hint of the hardship to come when the Crusaders struck first in game one. Sophomore Jordan Stickler bunted, earning a single to first base with one out. Sophomore Seth Hanson then smashed a double to left field, which was enough to score Stickler all the way from first base, giving the Crusaders an early 1-0 lead.

The Gents — conference leaders in runs scored — answered back in their half of the first frame with five runs. The first three hitters for the Gents were able to reach base, and a sacrifice fly tied the game even.

After three intervening runs from Centenary, a sacrifice bunt back to the Crusaders’ starting pitcher, senior Ryan Hammonds, scored the fifth and final run in the first frame, which would prove enough for the Gents to take the game.

In the third frame the Crusaders scored another run by recycling the same players that scored the first one. Stickler was issued a walk with two outs, and proceeded to steal second.  Hanson continued his team-leading hitting in RBI by lacing a single to left field.

The Gents got that run back in their half of that same frame, but were kept off the scoreboards for the rest of the game thanks to junior relief pitcher Abraham Griesbauer.

The Crusaders did score again and had a chance to take the lead later in the sixth frame, when a 2-out rally was sparked by a single to center field, thanks to Patton.

Sophomore first baseman Brice Cell caught on and lifted his teammate up with a single to left field, and Patton moved within 90 feet of scoring thanks to a wild pitch.

Senior catcher Zach San Roman came through as well with a single to left field, but the Crusaders slowed down and left one on in the remaining three at bats after having stranded runners on the corners in the sixth.

“I felt good about my hitting streak,” Patton said. “I felt like I was comfortable in the box and I knew my situation.”

The Crusaders did not fare any better in the second game of the doubleheader, falling in a 0-10 shutout.

“Although we were down 10-0 when I went up to the plate, I was excited to get the opportunity to play,” freshman Nicholas Hovde, who recorded one hit in game two, said. “I try to make the most of the opportunities I get to play.”

The Crusaders also dropped the third game on Sunday, losing 0-8 to be swept by Louisiana.

“Obviously, I think we need to hit the ball much better to win games,” Hovde said. “Scoring three runs in three games is unacceptable. We also have to execute better defensively to help our pitchers out on the mound.”

The next five games for the Crusaders are all non-conference match-ups, giving them a break before the home stretch of conference play.

The Crusaders will face Dallas Christian College for the second time this season on Wednesday, March 29, at 3 p.m. UD won their first meeting 8-7 earlier this month.

From there they will play another three games on the road at LeTourneau University this weekend, April 1-2, followed by another game against Dallas Christian, this time on the road on Tuesday, April 4, at 4 p.m.

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