Pioneers earn conference-opening sweep

Pioneers earn conference-opening sweep
Wayland Baptist Baseball logo (sourece: Wayland Baptist Athletics)

McPHERSON, Kan. – After rallying to victory Friday, the Wayland Baptist baseball team experienced much less anxiety – along with higher temperatures – a day later when the Pioneers rolled to 10-2 and 8-0 victories Saturday afternoon over Central Christian College.

The three-game sweep in the Sooner Athletic Conference-opening series – which started when Wayland scored 15 runs in the final three innings for a 20-10 win Friday – lifts Wayland to 9-1 on the season and 3-0 in league play. It's the Pioneers best start to a season since going 13-1 in 2010.

WBU will try to get closer to that number when Oklahoma Panhandle State (5-9) – which like Central Christian is also a rookie in the SAC – visits Wilder Field for three games next weekend. The Pioneers and Aggies are scheduled to play a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Friday followed by a single game at 2 Saturday. OPSU opened conference play at home against Mid-America Christian, falling 11-2 and 14-7 while winning the second game, 3-2.

Against Central Christian (1-15, 0-3), the Pioneers wrapped up the weekend with their first shutout of the season, a four-hitter shared by four pitchers. Jordie Henry earned the win, going 4 2/3 innings and giving up no runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one. Jonathan Frost finished out the fifth inning before Matt Flores and Carlos Dominguez pitched an inning apiece.

At the plate, the Pioneers scored two runs in each of the first two innings and three more in the fourth for a 7-0 lead. Gregg Veneklasen got the day off to a good start with a two-run home run in the first inning, then Nicholas Moore repeated it in the second. Austin Moya's two-RBI double highlighted the fourth.

Veneklasen and Devlin Smith produced two hits apiece as Wayland wound up with seven hits and took advantage of three errors by the Tigers.

In Saturday's opener, the Pioneers scored runs in every inning but one as they produced 14 hits, three each by Yaniel Vargas and Derek Farmer and two apiece by Nick Rucker and Bryan Nunez. Rucker tallied three RBIs while Moya and Vargas had two each.

Senior Kevin Torres earned the win after allowing two unearned runs on two hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Tristen Hefner recorded two outs before Bradden Kennard pitched the seventh.