UTD baseball team sweeps ASC opponent for second consecutive series

Hridiya Dhulipala | Mercury Staff

With three hard-fought victories this week, UTD baseball improved, moving to second place in the ASC divisional standings and overtaking rival Mary Hardin-Baylor.  

On March 28, when UTD welcomed conference opponent Concordia to Richardson ahead of Easter weekend, the team was in third place in the ASC standings — three games behind first-place East Texas Baptist. Despite playing with an injured roster, the Comets showcased their pitching, grit and timely hitting as they swept the Tornadoes, ending the series with a trio of low-scoring wins. With a few key offensive players slated to return and a critical two-week stretch against Mary Hardin-Baylor and East Texas Baptist on the schedule for April, Head Coach Shane Shewmake said this series demonstrated a key part of UTD’s formula for success.  

“Pitching has been a strength for us all year,” Shewmake said. “Offensively, the main thing is that they just kept playing. We talk about this a lot: at the end of the day these games are about finding a way to win.”  

UTD’s effective pitching was the key to game one. Junior right-hander Dylan Collins threw a complete game, allowing only four hits and one run across seven innings, earning his fourth win of the season. 

“Collins was great out there … the pitches were nasty, and he was hitting his spots,” said senior starting pitcher Dylan Hugley. “He looks like he’s going to be real tough to hit down the stretch.” 

The second game was a particularly hard-fought victory. After trailing for much of the game, UTD scored three runs in the last two innings to tie the score and force the game into extra innings. The game lasted four more innings before centerfielder Jaeger Self scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 13th. Self carried the Comets’ offense throughout both of Thursday’s games, going 5-7 on the day and gaining three of UTD’s five runs in the extra-inning victory.  

“What [Self] did, that was huge … consistently getting hits, and then he had the big play to win the game. He’s on second base, and he had the green light: he steals third, and then we score the winning run on a wild pitch,” Shewmake said. “If he doesn’t do that, I don’t know when we were going to score again.” 

On Friday, the final game of the series once again came down to the Comets taking advantage of small opportunities late in the game. After seven scoreless frames from Hugley, designated hitter Grayson Coltharp laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance catcher Nico Fernandez and right fielder Josh Johnson to second and third with only one out in the bottom of the seventh. Fernandez and Johnson would come around to score on an error and a fielders’ choice, and UTD eventually won the game 2-1. Hugley credited the victory to the team’s ability to continue to grind down an opposing pitcher until an opportunity arises to manufacture runs.  

“The guys showed a lot of grit out there,” Hugley said. “They don’t quit. That’s why we got the win.”  

Next weekend, UTD will head to Howard Payne, where they look to add on to their six-game winning streak. After that, they will host third-place Mary Hardin-Baylor in Richardson on April 12 and 13 in  a series that will figure heavily into the playoff rankings. With offensive reinforcements on the way— Shewmake said that he has only been able to field his ‘A’ lineup in nine games this season, because of injuries – the baseball team remains confident going into April. 

“Six in a row is a testament to this team’s determination,” Hugley said, “and we feel like we can beat anyone with how we are playing right now.” 

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