HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Murray State College scored a combined 12 runs Saturday in sweeping a doubleheader from National Park College, 4-0 and 8-3. Eleven of those 12 runs scored on the eight home runs that the Aggies hit.
The stars were in perfect alignment for Murray State, which also got outstanding pitching from southpaw Braden Corley and Mason Creacy, not to mention solid defensive support. Lady luck was also on the Aggies’ side with Nighthawk batters hitting several line drives right at the Aggies’ fielders. Two controversial calls by the plate umpire in the second game also favored the winners.
Most of Murray State’s home runs would have been routine flyballs in a bigger park. One of the Aggies’ assistant coaches estimated it was less than 300 feet down the lines, and maybe 340 feet to center at Hot Springs High School’s new baseball complex. There might have been more homers if the wind had not been blowing in from left field.
“Usually this field plays in our favor a little bit, but it didn’t today,” said NPC coach Rich Thompson. “Their first pitcher (Corley) really pitched well, and the second guy (Creacy) threw well until the eighth inning in the second game.
“We’ll come back tomorrow (Sunday) after having a conversation about quality at-bats. We swung at a lot of first pitches today, and we really couldn’t handle some of them.”
Aggies’ home runs hit by freshmen
All eight of the Aggies’ roundtrippers were hit by freshmen. Trey Ware, Cyrus Campos and Cody Moore each hit one in both games. Ethan Moore and Tyler Struck also hit home runs. Murray State came into the doubleheader with 25 home runs in 29 games. That compares to the 58 dingers hit by the Nighthawks in 25 games. NPC did not add to that number Saturday, scoring its only runs of the day in the eighth inning of the nightcap.
Catcher Jarred Harris ignited the Nighthawks’ big inning with a double to center. Panama H-Mendez walked, and Nathan Kirkpatrick was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tristen Jamison followed with a grounder to first that scored Harris. Two more runs scored when Cole Rodriguez singled to left.
Nighthawks host Aggies Sunday at 1 p.m.
Relief pitcher Coby Grimsley got a 3-2-3 doubleplay to get out of further trouble. Thompson and his players argued that the first baseman had come off the bag, but the play stood after the two umpires got together.
The Nighthawks ended up using six pitchers in the second game. Bradley Bearden, Payton Windham and Danny O’Donnell pitched the final three innings. They each went one inning and held Murray State hitless. Matthew Herron started for NPC, and took the loss.
Corley was dominating in the first game. He scattered three hits, while walking one and striking out 10. The Nighthawks loaded the bases in the seventh, but the crafty left-hander got his 10th strikeout to end the game.
Murray State improves to 16-14 overall and 3-3 in conference with the two wins. NPC falls to 13-14 and 2-4, respectively. Sunday’s twinbill is slated to start at 1 p.m.