Pioneers end series with 8-3 win over MACU

Pioneers end series with 8-3 win over MACU
Source: Wayland Baptist University Athletics

Information courtesy of Wayland Baptist Athletics

OKLAHOMA CITY – Nick Rucker and Gregg Veneklasen got the job done at the plate and Juan Arroyo did the same on the mound as the 23rd-ranked Wayland Baptist Pioneers wrapped up their Sooner Athletic Conference series with Mid-America Christian here Saturday afternoon with an 8-3 win.

The victory followed a pair of losses on Friday, 3-2 and 6-4. The Pioneers now stand at 21-11 on the season and 9-6 in the conference. Wayland is in fifth place in the 10-team league, a game behind MACU (23-11, 10-5). No. 8 USAO (23-4, 10-1) is in first, followed by No. 18 Texas Wesleyan (20-7, 10-2) and No. 10 Oklahoma City (23-5, 11-3).

On Saturday, Rucker ended the game 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, four RBIs and two runs scored, while Veneklasen was a perfect 4-for-4 with a homer, a walk, three runs and two RBIs.

Wayland's big inning was the fifth. Clinging to a 1-0 lead since the first, the Pioneers added three to it in the fifth when Veneklasen and Rucker slapped back-to-back, two-out dingers. Veneklasen's, a two-run shot to left, was his NAIA-leading 14th of the season that extended the career program record he broke on Tuesday to 47.

WBU went up 6-0 in the sixth when Devlin Smith joined the homer barrage with a two-run blast, his third of the season.

On the mound, Arroyo, a junior, was cruising, having allowed just two hits through six. But the Evangels got their bats going in the seventh and Arroyo sat down after 97 pitches, having given up three runs on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts, matching senior Kevin Torres for the most in a single game this season for the Pioneers.

Jonathan Frost replaced Arroyo and recorded two outs before Carlos Dominguez relieved and finished out the inning, and the game. The freshman went 2 1/3, allowing no runs and no hits with one walk and a strikeout for his first save of the season.

Dominguez's teammates, meanwhile, gave him two more cushion runs in the eighth. After Veneklasen doubled, Rucker belted his second homer of the day – again on a 0-0 count – and seventh of season.

Wayland ended with 15 hits. Besides the seven by Rucker and Veneklasen, Smith, Yaniel Vargas, Jonathan Ottenwalder and Matt Flores 
provided two each to account for all 15.

It was the first loss of the season for MACU's Ben Donnell (4-1).

In the series opener Friday, Wayland took a 2-0 lead in the second when Smith delivered a bases-loaded double. The Evangels got both runs back in the fourth on a home run by Luis Sanchez off senior Kevin Torres.

Neither team threatened to score again until the bottom of the seventh when the Evangels scratched together the winning run. After Raymond Rodriguez singled, Antonio Dorado drew a one-out walk, only the second of the game against Torres.

Frost relieved and Diego Pichardo came up with a walk-off RBI-single to center.

Torres (3-2) was the hard-luck loser, his second straight. He gave up seven hits, struck out five and walked two.

MACU's Keisy Portorreal improved to 7-2 in pitching the six-hit complete game. He walked two and struck out six.

Friday's second game saw the Evangels strike for three runs in the third before the Pioneers tried to rally. Wayland got single runs in the fourth (on an RBI-double by Floers) and sixth (on Austin Moya's bases-loaded walk) but went to the seventh down 6-2 after MACU plated two in the fifth and another in the sixth.

Rucker opened the seventh with a double then Ottenwalder walked. After Jake White took over for reliever Jairo Aparicio who recorded just one out after spelling starter Reid Wall after 5 2/3, Brendon Foust greeted him with a single that loaded the bases.

A single by Flores plated Rucker, then Ottenwalder scored when Derek Farmer grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play. Bryan Nunez drew a walk before the game ended on Vargas' line-drive out to second.

Wayland is back in action at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home for a non-conference game against McMurry. It will be the second meeting of the season with the War Hawks, who won in Abilene on March 6, 10-2.

The Pioneers are back at Wilder Field next weekend for a three-game SAC series against No. 11 USAO. A doubleheader starts at 4 p.m. Friday followed by a single game at noon Saturday.