Amidst a slow start, Western did just enough at just the right times to end the weekend with a 2-1 record over Harding University.
Harding won game one by a score of 8-0. Nate Hunter struck out seven without a walk through six innings, only letting up three runs. Harding blew the game open with four two-out runs in the seventh. Three of the seventh inning runs were unearned, aided by an error and a wild pitch in the inning. Western only had three hits.
This was another opening day loss for coach Charles Verduzco who, despite his positive career record, usually loses in the opening game, wasn’t fazed by the results.
“Well, I think it was opening day jitters,” Verduzco said. “A lot of new bats in the lineup, and there are things they still need to learn, pitches they need to learn not to swing at. Things will get better.”
This feeling seemed to have seeped into the players as well as Dusty Stroup also attributed the loss due to jitters.
“A lot of new guys haven’t started on this stage before,” Stroup said. “We all get those opening day jitters.”
Western came back in the second game of this double header by defeating Harding 5-1. Harding took the lead again in the fifth inning, but Western won with a run in the fifth before two in the sixth, and two more in the seventh to seal the game.
Junior Will Jibas went 3-for-4 on the day with two hits. Jibas had two doubles and drove in a run. Pitcher Carson Dwyre got the win in this game. Dwyre held Harding to two hits and one earned run through five innings in his first appearance as a Griffon.
Game three of the weekend was an exciting one as Western went on and scored 11 unanswered runs to win 13-7.
Western fell behind early, down 7-2 at the end of the second inning, but were able to overcome the early hole by scoring three runs in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings.
The Western bullpen allowed just one unearned run through seven and 2/3 innings. Trever Carroll picked up the win in relief. He allowed one unearned run on two hits while striking out five in five and 2/3 innings. Levi Schreiner went 3-for-3 at the plate and walked three times. He had three RBIs and a double on Sunday. Schreiner came home with a 4-for-4 series with three runs scored, and three RBIs.
Kellan Richards and Miles Kilgore combined for a perfect eighth and ninth, respectively. Kilgore struck out the side in the ninth, while Richards struck out one in the eighth.
Western goes back to Arkansas next weekend for a four-game series at Arkansas Tech that begins with a single game on Feb. 9.