MARSHALL, Texas – Three players pounded out three hits each for five of the 10 runs scored as East Texas Baptist University (1-0) held off Centenary College (0-1) in the season opener at Woods Field. ETBU had an 8-1 lead early in the game before pulling away for the 10-8 victory. Phillip Windham, Tyler Bates, and Matt Sullivan all had three hits as Zach Tampke picked up the his first win of the year.
“The first win of the season is the hardest one to get and today was a little bit of a mixed tail as we jumped out and did a good job of getting on top of them and then we lost some momentum in the middle of the game,” says head coach Lee Driggers. “When we had to come back in the middle of the game we did and regained the momentum and I was very happy about that.”
This is the second year in a row that ETBU has started the year with a win over Centenary College. Last year, ETBU won in McKinney, Texas, 9-8, on a walk-off hit. Centenary went on to finish second in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference at 15-5. They are picked to finish third this year in the SCAC.
Windham led ETBU going 3-of-4 at the plate with three RBI smashing his first home run of the year. Bates finished 3-of-5 with three runs scored and one RBI while Sullivan was also 3-of-4 with one RBI. Jaxon Rader, Taylor Turley, and Wes Dorough all had two hits as Turley produced three RBI. Centenary’s Christian Sebastien had three hits and two RBI for his team.
Tampke did the majority of the work on the mound going 6.1 innings with three strikeouts. He gave up nine hits and had five earned runs. Kirby Moore worked the ninth inning for the save as he allowed two hits and one run. Also seeing work in the mound was Ashley Dukes (0.1 IP), Cody Pruitt (1.0 IP), and Jimmy Russo (0.1 IP).
“This was a strong outing for Zach as he had a little bit there in the middle where he lost his control as he was pressing a little bit but as long as he stayed relaxed and trusted his stuff he was sharp all day long,” says Driggers.
After two scoreless innings, Centenary struck the pay dirt first in the top of third inning on a Martinez single. ETBU answered back in the bottom of the inning with three runs as the first three batters of the inning all had hits. Rader started off the inning with a single and moved to third on a Sullivan double. Bates tied the game up with a single up the middle and two batters later Turley doubled to right center field to make it 3-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, ETBU produced their best inning of the game with five runs. Jordan Brewer was the first run of the inning coming in on a wild pitch from Centenary’s Taylor Henry. Sullivan picked up his RBI of the game chopping a shot up the middle scoring Rader leaving two runners on base. Windham stepped up and hit a powerful shot over the left centerfield fence for the sixth, seventh, and eighth runs of the game pushing the lead to 8-1.
Centenary crept back into the game scoring six runs over the next four innings to pull within one, 8-7 in the top of the eighth. ETBU fought right back adding two in the bottom of the inning extending their lead to three, 10-7. Turley had his second RBI of the game as Bates came in from third with the bases loaded on a throwing error to first by Centenary. Rader also came in on the throw from second base for the two runs in the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Moore came in to work his magic as the closer. After two of the first three batters reached base, Centenary picked up their run on a throwing error. After the error, Centenary’s runner was thrown out at third base as he was trying to steal for the second out. The next batter then grounded out to Conner Combs at second base to end the game.
ETBU will travel to Centenary at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday for a double header to complete the series.