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Hounds salvage finale against St. Mary's

SAN ANTONIO – In what could have been a devastating weekend, Eastern New Mexico University’s baseball team salvaged a 10-5 series finale win over St. Mary’s in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday and inched closer to securing a berth in the upcoming Lone Star Conference tournament.

The Rattlers took the first game 9-7 and won the series three games to one. ENMU (22-23, 20-23 LSC) regained seventh place over the Rattlers (22-24, 20-24) with the Game 2 victory, and leads ninth-place Texas A&M International (19-27, 18-26) by 2 ½ games with four left this weekend.

ENMU hosts Lubbock Christian (28-18, 26-18) for four season-ending games at Greyhound Field this weekend, starting with a 2:30 p.m. single contest on Friday. A split with the Chaparrals, who are coming off a four-game sweep of West Texas A&M to pull into a tie for fourth place with the Buffaloes, would get the Hounds in for sure.

Texas-Permian Basin (19-27, 17-27) also has a slim chance to qualify, but would need a sweep over Oklahoma Christian at home and either ENMU or St. Mary’s, which closes at last-place Cameron, to lose all four games. International plays four at third-place St. Edward’s (32-13, 30-13).

The Hounds scored four in the third and five in the fourth for a 10-1 lead in the finale, and sophomore right-hander Julian Lopez (4-2) made it stand up with a complete-game, 132-pitch performance. It was his second complete game since joining the rotation in late March, and his first of the nine-inning variety.

“Lopez put our entire team on his back and threw a gem of a complete game,” ENMU coach Riley Price said. “I’m proud of him for continuing to step up in the starter role for us and allowing us to salvage the weekend.”

Sophomore second baseman Demetrio Archuleta drove in five runs for the Hounds while freshman left fielder Jonatan Clough blasted a three-run homer, his 15th of the spring. Given the large cushion, Lopez surrendered single tallies in the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth, but was able to finish it off, allowing 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

Freshmen Dylan Hummel and Jayden Martinez were both 2-for-4 for the Hounds, who were outhit 10-9 but stranded only three baserunners. Catcher Easton Parrish and right fielder Clay Bradford hit solo homers for St. Mary’s.

In the seven-inning opener, the Hounds scored four times in the first inning and cruised into the bottom of the fifth with a 5-1 lead before the Rattlers touched up junior left-hander Ruger Bravo (6-6) and reliever Javier Luna for seven runs, only four of them earned. Two runs, though, scored on bases-loaded walks and another on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

“We came out and scored early,” Price said of the first tilt, “but we lacked the quality at-bats needed to continue putting up runs and we fell apart quickly on the mound and on defense.

“They outplayed us and we allowed the big inning to happen, and they ended up running away with the win.”

The Hounds scored twice in the seventh, but were unable to get the tying run to the plate.