The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Aggies upend Hounds in home debut


February 7, 2018

Eric Murray

Eastern's Endy Villalona steals second base in the second inning of Tuesday's home-opener against Oklahoma Panhandle State. Villalona is now a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base opportunities through five games on the year.

PORTALES — A roller coaster afternoon resulted in disappointment for Eastern New Mexico on Tuesday, in the Greyhounds' baseball home-opener. The Hounds committed costly mistakes in the late stages of the game, allowing for an 8-6 Oklahoma Panhandle State victory.

"We made some costly errors. We only made two of them, but they were so huge and it brought four runs on the board for (the Aggies)," ENMU coach David Gomez said. "We, as a whole, weren't ready to go (and) we didn't do enough to pull it out. But credit to OPSU, they just came ready to go and we didn't."

After trailing for most of the day, ENMU (3-2) rallied to tie things up in the bottom of the sixth inning. Paul Tapia's lining single to left field scored Malcolm Boehm, while Chris Padilla's single brought in Tapia to close the gap to 4-3.

Zach Shank then followed with a single of his own to bring in Padilla to notch things up, all with no outs. However, a pair of flyouts and a groundout stranded Shank at third. But, Eastern would keep the momentum going in the seventh inning when Boehm's sacrifice fly to center field plated Andrew Stubbs.

While Gomez believed coming into the season that he'd have a "decent" offensive team, the Hounds have proven to be a few notches above that in the early going. Through five games, ENMU has scored 46 runs — or 9.2 runs per game.

"We put some hits up, we put some runs up. But obviously, if weren't not gonna play defense, then we gotta be even tougher, offensively," Gomez explained. "We had a couple guys out, which hurt us a little bit, but that's not much of an excuse. We had opportunities to make plays, and we just didn't make them."

However, the Aggies (4-3) would not allow a game they dominated for the most of the day to get away that easily. Greyhounds reliever Eliezer Estrella intentionally walked Nate Kelly with two outs in the top of the eighth to load the bases.

Juan Sanchez rallied during a long at-bat, in which he quickly fell behind 0-2, to hit a hard grounder to third base. ENMU third baseman Reynaldo Guillen misfired on the throw, which zipped past Stubbs at first base to bring in a pair of Aggies.

Kasey Leatherwood quickly followed that up with a two-run, standing triple to the right field corner to bring in Sanchez and Kelly, extending the Panhandle State lead to 8-5 and effectively sinking Eastern's chances, in the process.

The Greyhounds will now travel to the Atlanta area for this weekend's Peachtree City Tournament, before returning home on Feb. 20 for a re-match with the Aggies. Eastern will face Morehouse (10 a.m.) and Fairmont State (1 p.m.) on Friday, before taking on Tuskegee and Clark Atlanta on Saturday, followed by Morehouse and Tuskegee on Saturday.

For Gomez, however, Mother Nature may be his team's biggest opponent this weekend. "Right now, we're kinda watching the weather pretty close in Atlanta — it's looking pretty rough," Gomez said, laughing.

"We'll have to keep evaluating the weather as we move forward. We've done well in this tournament in the past, and I think this team is a good team. We'll be fine, but we just gotta make sure we're rested up and ready to go."


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