Provided by Wayland Baptist University
It wasn't always pretty in Saturday afternoon's game, but the Wayland Baptist baseball team still found a way to come out on top at Wilder Field for its 16th-straight win. The Pioneers left 11 runners on base, but starting pitcher Taylor Bridges didn't allow the team's offensive struggles to affect his pitching, allowing just one run in a complete game, 3-1, win over Mid-America Christian.
The Pioneers (24-6, 12-0) had a runner in scoring position in all eight of their offensive innings, but only scored in three. Wayland's first run of the game came in the third inning after Josh Alexander reached on a fielder's choice, driving in Aaron Vallance from third. Vallance and Mark Davis both reached safely to start the inning, before stealing second and third to get into scoring position.
Bridges (5-1) faced the minimum through the first three innings until Mid-America (6-17, 3-9) finally got to the southpaw in the top of the fourth.
Daniel Thompson doubled with one out and was brought home by the Evangel's three-hole hitter, Chevin Noone, with a single to left. Damion Lovato, WBU's left fielder, got the ball in quickly to the cutoff man, Chris Buitron, catching Noone at second trying to leg out a double.
Bridges got a fly ball to end the inning, but not before the Evangels were able to tie the game up at one run apiece.
Wanting to play with a lead as they have for most of the year, the Pioneer offense responded in the home-half of the inning to regain the lead.
Brayden Blackwell and Buitron led off the bottom of the second with two sharp-hit balls, but MACU's defense made the plays to put the Pioneers in a whole with two outs. Gaby De La Cruz picked up his first hit of the game, however, doubling down the left field line to keep the inning going.
Colton Palmer followed up with a big two-out hit, lacing a single to right to score De La Cruz, giving the Pioneers a 2-1 advantage.
Pitching with the lead, Bridges dominated the MACU lineup over the final five innings, allowing just three base runners and facing two batters more than the minimum over that span.
Looking for a little insurance, Wayland added a run in the eighth inning to its slight lead it held over the Evangels.
De La Cruz got his second extra-base hit of the game after the left fielder made an ill-advised dive, coming up empty, allowing the big first baseman to make his way to third.
After a pitching change, Palmer picked up his second RBI of the contest, laying down a beautiful bunt on a squeeze play, scoring pinch runner Josh Vera. Bridges mowed down the Evangels in the top of the ninth, securing a 3-1 win for Wayland.
Bridges' complete-game performance was the third-straight game that the Pioneers did not need to dip into the bullpen. The freshman out of Lubbock gave up five hits while striking out four and walking one.
Palmer and De La Cruz propelled the Pioneer offense in Saturday's win, both going two-for-three at the plate. Palmer drove in two, while De La Cruz scored once with a double and triple. Buitron also had two hits in WBU's final game of the series.
The Pioneers will face Lubbock Christian on the road at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday before heading to Shawnee, Okla. to face No. 11 Oklahoma Baptist on Friday and Saturday. The Bison (24-4, 8-2) will look to knock WBU off the top of the Sooner Athletic Conference standings as they trail the Pioneers by just a game and a half.