The UTD baseball team advanced to the American Southwest Conference championship game before falling 6-2 to host McMurry.
The Comets, runners-up in last year’s title game, fell behind early and couldn’t generate enough offense down the stretch to mount a comeback.
“We were disappointed, very disappointed. We were fortunate to get there, but our goal was to win it this time around,” Head Coach Shane Shewmake said.
Both squads managed seven hits, but McMurry’s came in bunches, helping the Indians chase freshman starter Trey Schurr in the fifth.
“They got big hits. We got the same number of hits, but theirs drove in runs,” Shewmake said.
Sacrifice flies by junior catcher Justin Price and senior outfielder Mark Cardoza drove in the only Comet runs of the afternoon.
In the opening round of the tourney, UTD plated six runs in the last two innings to knock off West division No. 2 seed, Concordia-Austin. Shewmake said the Comets’ strategy doesn’t change when they are down late in a game.
“[The coaches] really didn’t tell them anything. We just play nine innings. We played hard and were able to put some runs on the board,” Shewmake said.
McMurry handed the Comets their first loss in the double elimination tournament with a 7-2 victory on April 30. The Indians jumped on junior right-hander Gordon Walters, scoring three runs each in the first and last innings.
UTD got a run back in the fifth on a towering home run by outfielder David Widaski. In the next frame, the Comets picked up another run on a McMurry error, but watched their best tying chance evaporate as they stranded three runners.
UTD loaded the bases again in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t manage to score.
With their backs against the wall in the elimination game, the Comets continued their season-long domination of Mississippi College, bashing out a 10-7 victory. Junior left-hander Kevin McKnight scattered 13 hits in 8.2 innings to earn the win.
The Comet bats didn’t waste any time getting started as UTD scored in each of the first five innings.
Senior first baseman Lawrence Valbuena opened the scoring with a two run home run in the first, and the Comets added three more in the second on four hits.
For their weekend performances, senior outfielder Caleb Chandler, senior second baseman Matt Endsley and junior shortstop Johnny Espree were named to the All-tournament team.
Shewmake said he was proud of his team and acknowledges that UTD will lose a handful of seniors who played a large role in the Comets’ success.
“We’re in the early stages of recruiting. Most of our pitching staff will be back next year, and that’s a good place to build from. We’ve definitely got some holes to fill, but we hope to replace these guys and not skip a beat,” Shewmake said.