Northeastern earns sweep over Hounds

ENMU first baseman Tyler Rutherford tries to snag a wide throw as Northeastern State’s Jimmy Pike reaches base safely during Friday’s opener of a doubleheader at Greyhound Field. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Northeastern State’s bats jumped all over Eastern New Mexico University on Friday at Greyhound Field.

The Redmen took control of the first game early, scoring 18 runs in the first three innings in a 26-3 rout before holding on for a 10-9 victory in the nightcap.

After jumping out to a 7-0 start this season, ENMU has lost three consecutive games.

Northeastern State coach Sergio Espinal was happy with his team’s offense.

“We just came out mentally ready to play,” Espinal said. “The kids did a real good job of putting the ball in play and finding holes.”

The Redmen took control of the first game early, scoring seven runs on nine hits in the first inning, including a two-run blast to center field from designated hitter Nash Garcia.

Friday’s second game threatened to be another blowout Northeastern (4-1), which took an 8-1 lead through 2 1/2 innings, but the Greyhounds bats came alive in the bottom of the third.

Senior first basemen Kelton Hayes connected for a three-run blast to deep center field and freshman Matthew Chavez singled home another run, to bring the Hounds within 8-6.

The home team rallied again in the bottom of the seventh as senior catcher Gerald Juarez tripled home another run, and first baseman Casey Bigham brought in another with a sacrifice fly, but the rally ended there, as Northeastern State won the second game 10-9.

“There’s nothing positive from this,” ENMU coach Phil Clabaugh said. “We lost two games. We stunk today and we’ve got to regroup.”

However, Espinal was impressed with how the Hounds fought back into the second game.

“(ENMU) battled back,” he said. “We took a big lead they really did a good job of coming back in the second game. We never gave up the lead; that was the good thing about our team today.”

Junior third basemen Derrick Kennedy drove in four runs for ENMU on two hits over five at-bats during the two games.

Northeastern State had seven players with four or more hits, led by second baseman Scott Sittel who finished the day 7-for-9 with five RBIs. Third baseman Joel Eusebio and first baseman Justin Delay drove in six runs each over the two games.

“We lost because we didn’t play very good, and they played very well,” Claubaugh said. “They were better than we were today.”

The Hounds (7-3) conclude their LSC crossover series with Northeastern State today with a double-header starting at noon at Greyhound Field. Sophomore left-hander Seth Claubaugh and senior right-hander Jeff Roemer are expected to start for the Hounds.