The University of Dallas baseball team began their season on Saturday and Sunday against a familiar foe, the Sul Ross State University Lobos, in enemy territory. UD was the winner of the last four opening days against the Lobos, but this was the first year since 2013 that the team dropped its first three games of the season. They enjoyed early leads in both of the first two games, but were unable to contain the opponent’s offense in both affairs.
The Crusaders started the scoring by having five straight batters reach base before an out was recorded. Junior first baseman Mark Peterson drove in the first run of the game by slicing a double down the left side of the field. Sophomore third baseman Nathan Patton then scored the next run on a passed ball by the pitcher, making the score 2-0.
The Lobos responded with a run in the bottom of the first. They secured their lead with a pair of runs in the third. Designated hitter Jacob Pool smacked a single through the left side with two outs which scored teammates Monty Maley and Guillermo Loera. The Lobos added a fourth run in the fourth, which would be enough to defeat the Crusaders with an eventual final score of 3-7.
The Crusaders notched three runs in the first inning, starting off the second game with an advantage. Second baseman Seth Hanson hit a two-run triple after a sacrifice fly from Patton, who started the scoring.
The Lobos responded in the bottom of the first with a run scored, but the top of the second frame was highlighted by center fielder Jordan Stickler’s first career home run that went over the left field wall and propelled the Crusaders to a 4-1 lead.
A run in the third by the Lobos cut the UD lead in half 4-2, but a four-run fifth proved to be too much for the Crusaders as the Lobos took the lead 4-6 and never relinquished it. The game ended with a 4-13 loss for the Crusaders.
The third and final game of the series was an afternoon affair on Sunday that showcased a high offensive turnout of scoring back and forth, with a combined 26 runs scored for the game. Dallas scored first in all three games of the series, but the Lobos answered back explosively with five runs in the bottom of the first inning in Sunday’s game.
The momentum shifted once again when Patton tied the game at five on a bases-clearing triple to right center field in the second.
“I knew the pitcher was having trouble getting his other pitches to find the zone, so I was looking [for a] heavy fastball. I worked the count a little bit, and I finally got a fastball I could handle, and I put a good swing on it,” Patton said ofthe hit.
Each run was crucial, as the Lobos answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the second frame. UD tied the game once again in the top of the third frame, this time at eight a piece, thanks to sophomore designated hitter Zachary Taylor’s big hit down the left field line with the bases loaded, bringing all three batters home.
“What I’m looking to improve upon this year after last season is being patient at the plate and hitting my pitch. During the offseason I’ve been working on my approach at the plate and looking for my pitch, and I believe my multi-hit game should [show] that hard work pays off,” Taylor said of his performance.
The Lobos answered with a combined five runs of their own in the third and fourth innings of the game, eventually making the game 9-14 in their favor after five innings of play, with both teams having scored a run in the fifth.
However, the Crusaders tried to fight their way back into the game by scoring three runs in the top of the seventh. Shortstop Josh Abalos scored after Patton singled to left for his fifth RBI and junior catcher Jessup Scott singled, making the score 11-14. Patton was able to score after a double play with no outs, making the score 12-14.
“The start to the season is not what the squad had hoped for, but this opening series does not define our whole season,” Patton said. “Our ultimate goal is to win the SCAC tournament, but within that goal, there are many others. Our goal every weekend is to win [each] series, which then will get us into the conference tournament. We strive to play our hearts out and leave nothing behind.”
Dallas will continue the season with a four game home stand from the 9th to the 11th against Mississippi University for Women. The set begins with a single contest this Friday at 3 p.m.