The McLennan Highlanders opened the series with the Howard Hawks this afternoon with a doubleheader sweep at Bosque River Ballpark.
Game one took an extra inning but the Highlanders defeated the Hawks 5-4. Max Mize got the win on the mound in relief.
McLennan scored one run in the bottom of the second inning as Brett Squires doubled and scored on a double by Brooks Embry.
The Highlanders added two runs in the third. Jalen Battles walked, stole second and scored on a single by Jordan Yeatts. Cole Moore singled and Garrett Martin walked to load the bases. Yeatts then scored on a sacrifice fly by Squires.
McLennan extended the lead to four in the fourth as Aidan Shepardson doubled and scored on a double by Battles.
Howard got on the board with a run in the top of the sixth as Nick Jodway doubled and scored on a single by Brandon Pimentel.
The Hawks tied the game with three runs in the seventh. Raul Ortega singled and was replaced by pinch runner Jacob Martinez. Martinez then moved to second on a passed ball, and Diego Ramirez walked. Ben McClain followed with a single to score Martinez, and Lance Russell was safe on an error. Jodway then singled to score Ramirez and McClain.
McLennan sealed the win with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Cole Moore drew a lead-off walk and was replaced at first by pinch runner Spencer Wionzek. Wionzek then moved to second on a Hawk error and came around to score on a wild pitches and passed ball.
McLennan defeated Howard 6-3 in the nightcap with Mason Hilton getting the win.
The Highlanders began the scoring with a run in the bottom of the third as Shepardson singled, moved to second on a bunt by Vince Ippoliti, advanced to third on a fly out by Yeatts and scored on a sacrifice fly by Battles.
Two more McLennan runs scored in the fourth. Martin walked and moved to second on a Hawk error. Santos followed with a fielder's choice, putting Martin out at third. Squires singled and Embry doubled, bringing Santos and Squires in to score.
The Highlanders added another run in the fifth as Yeatts doubled, moved to second on a fly out by Battles and scored on a sacrifice fly by Moore.
McLennan's final two runs came in the bottom of the sixth. Santos reached first safely on an error and Squires walked. Both runners scored on a double by Embry.
All of Howard's runs came in the top of the seventh. Ramirez led off with a single. Jake Smith and Russell walked to load the bases. Jodway followed with a double to score all three runners.
"We had a great doubleheader sweep today. I was very proud of the way our guys battled. After being in control of the first game much of the game but then have Howard come back and tie it up, and us to come back in the bottom of the eighth to go ahead and win the game was huge. I like the battle there, the way we competed and the way we fight to continue to get better," head coach Mitch Thompson said. "We are having to do some things this weekend with our outfield play that is different than we've done all year based upon some injuries and stuff. So to see our guys handle it and fight through some adversity is really good."
"In game two, we were in control throughout the whole ballgame, 6-0 ahead going into the top of the seventh. They put together a nice little rally and got a couple runs across. But anytime you can get a doubleheader sweep you've got to be pleased with the effort of your team. It was a long day today. We will come back out there tomorrow and try to get after it again to see if we can sweep the entire series."
The Highlanders and Hawks will complete the three-game series with a single, nine-inning game at 1 p.m. Monday at Bosque River Ballpark.
McLennan 5, Howard 4
Howard 000 001 30 – 4 12 2
McLennan 012 100 01 – 5 6 2
Nicco Cole, David Bates (7) and Raul Ortega, Allante Hall (8). Alex DeLeon, Jack Driskell (6), Max Mize (7) and Ryan Bishop. WP: Mize; LP: Bates. Leading hitters – Howard: Ben McClain (1-4, RBI), Nick Jodway (3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Brandon Pimentel (2-3, RBI),Raul Ortega (2-2) and Allante Hall (1-1, 2B); McLennan: Jalen Battles (1-3, 2B, RBI), Jordan Yeatts (1-4, RBI), Brett Squires (1-2, 2B, RBI), Brooks Embry (1-3, 2B, RBI) and Aidan Shepardson (1-3, 2B). Record: McLennan 12-4.
McLennan 6, Howard 3
Howard 000 000 3 – 3 6 2
McLennan 001 212 x – 6 7 1
Ricky Apodaca, Max Gehler (4), Reed Osborn (6), John Carlos Ariza (6) and Allante Hall. Mason Hilton, Trevor Munsch (4) and Vince Ippoliti. WP: Hilton; LP: Apodaca; SV: Munsch. Leading hitters – Howard: Brandon Pimentel (2-3), Nick Jodway (1-3, 2B, 3 RBI) and Diego Ramirez (2-3); McLennan: Jordan Yeatts (1-4, 2B), Jalen Battles (0-2, RBI), Cole Moore (0-2, RBI), Thomas Santos (1-3, 2B) and Brooks Embry (2-3, 2 2B, 4 RBI). Record: McLennan 13-4.