Pioneers end regular-season on a roll

Pioneers end regular-season on a roll
Source: Wayland Baptist University Athletics

Information provided by Wayland Baptist University Athletics

WAXAHACHIE – Wayland Baptist closed out the regular-season here Saturday by complete a three-game sweep of Southwestern Assemblies of God University. After winning on Friday 15-2 in a game shortened to seven innings on the 10-run rule, the Pioneers prevailed in Saturday's doubleheader, 14-8 and 9-3.

Wayland closes the regular season having won 12 of its last 13 games and with a 34-17 record overall, including 16-11 in the Sooner Athletic Conference for fourth place in the 10-team league. The Pioneers will be the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament to be held May 4-7 and hosted by No. 5 Oklahoma City University (42-5) and No. 8 Science & Arts of Oklahoma (41-6), which tied for the regular-season title at 24-3. Texas Wesleyan (33-14, 19-8), ranked 20th, came in third place ahead of WBU.

Wayland's final regular-season series against SAGU (12-34, 5-22), which finished ninth in the SAC and will miss out on the conference tourney, featured outstanding pitching for the Pioneers. After freshman Tanner Solomon tossed a four-hitter Friday, Wayland got more solid mound work from senior Kevin Torres and freshman Chris Lacher on Saturday when the visitors came from behind to win both games.

Torres (5-3) started the opener, lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing five runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Chase Jones went the final 1 2/3, allowing a too-little, too-late 3-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.

It was too little, too late because the Pioneers erupted for seven runs in the fourth inning to take an 8-2 lead. The scoring frenzy was fed by a grand slam by Yaniel Vargas followed two batters later by a two-run home run by Gregg Veneklasen. Veneklasen's 20th homer tied him for the NAIA lead.

The Pioneers added two more runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to take a comfortable 14-5 lead.

Wayland ended with a dozen hits, three fewer than the Lions (12-34, 5-22). But the Pioneers drew nine walks compared to Torres and Jones combining to issue just one free pass.

In addition to Vargas who in addition to his grand slam had a double, Austin Moya went 3-for-4, Brendon Foust 2-for-4 and Derek Farmer 2-for-3.

In Wayland's 9-3 win in game two, Lacher (6-2) won his fourth straight decision and pitched his second straight complete game in his second start of the season by scattering five hits to go with two walks and two strikeouts. He was credited with just 81 pitches.

The left-hander gave up two runs in the first and another in the third but that was all. Meanwhile, the Pioneers put up two in the second, four in the third, one in the fourth and the last two in the fifth.

Wayland's four-run third was fueled by a pair of two-run home runs by Nick Rucker and Jonathan Ottenwalder, who along with Vargas had two hits apiece. Wayland wound up with 10 hits, including a third, solo home run by Bryan Nunez.