by Johnathan Lane Mercury Contributor
Strong pitching and good hitting have propelled the UTD baseball team to an impressive 13-2 record to open the 2004 season.?Head coach Shane Shewmake noted his pitching staff’s 2.39 ERA and his team’s combined batting average of .338 as the main factors to the Comet’s early success.?”We haven’t been giving up a lot of runs and we’ve been swinging the bats well. You put those together and you give yourself a chance to win,” he said.?The team entered conference play with a six-game win streak with victories over Sul Ross and Howard Payne. They extended the streak by sweeping the Austin College Kangaroos in a doubleheader.?In the first game against the ‘Roos, junior pitcher Kevin McKnight tossed a one-hitter, allowing only a single in the second inning, while striking out seven. Behind McKnight’s strong performance, the Comets cruised to an easy 9-0 victory.?Austin College gave the Comets fits in the second game, but UTD fended off the Kangaroos, winning 3-2 behind strong pitching from junior Gordon Walters and sophomore Randy Black.?The next day, Austin College shattered the Comets’ win streak, downing UTD 6-3 in a game that featured an eighth-inning rain delay.?In breaking the eight-game win streak, the ‘Roos picked up only their first win of the season.?”We didn’t come out to play on Saturday, and it cost us. Hopefully those guys have learned from that and it won’t happen again,” Shewmake said.?The Comets bounced back in their next doubleheader against William Jewell, winning 10-2 and 9-6. In each game, the team used a six-run inning to put the contests out of reach.?Freshman southpaw Frederick Schurr never gave William Jewell hitters a chance, striking out seven in seven innings while only allowing four base hits. ?The Comets’ quick start does not surprise Shewmake, who entered the season with confidence.?”Our expectations were to be competing for a conference championship, so we expected to play well,” Shewmake said.??