ABILENE, Texas -- Hardin-Simmons' baseball team swept Howard Payne in American Southwest Conference action on Saturday, 5-4 and 2-0, to claim third place and advance to the American Southwest Conference Championship Series next weekend.
The Cowboys had not won three games in a row all season long until this weekend and they needed every one of them to continue their season. HSU is now 19-18 on the year and finished the year at 12-9 in ASC West action. They finished tied with McMurry in the West standings but earned the three seed by virtue of a series win over the War Hawks.
HSU needed some late game heroics in the first game. The Cowboys trailed 4-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning. Jon Finney had an RBI double in the inning but the Cowboys left the bases loaded in the inning.
In the seventh inning, HSU scored two runs to tie the game and send the scheduled seven-inning game to an eighth inning. Seniors Bryan Blare and Andrew Rehling had RBI singles.
Blake Sieck was perfect through three innings, but an infield bunt single by Ryan Abbott and a walk by Dustin Cole led off the fourth. After two popouts, Carlton Brown had a two-run double for HPU. Abbott added an RBI single in the fifth to make it 3-0 and Tyrone Ahin had an RBI single in the fifth to make it 4-1. Joey Dearing had an RBI single for the Cowboys in the fifth.
Dearing was in the middle of the weird inning to the game. He doubled with one out in the eighth and then on a pickoff Ben Butler threw into centerfield and the ball went through the legs of centerfielder Kris Kloc to allow Dearing to score the winning run.
Sieck went four and one-third innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Tyler Brunnemann, Parker Robinson, Jordan Dotson and Alex Bradley work three and two-third innings and did not allow an earned run. Bradley, a freshman, earned his first collegiate win in relief.
Gilbert Barrerra allowed just two runs in five and two-third innings for HPU. Ben Butler took the loss in relief allowing three runs in an inning and two-thirds.
Abbott, Brown and Ahin had two hits each for HPU. Troy Tarrant, Rehling and Dearing had two hits each for HSU.
In the second game, which by league rule is shortened to seven innings if the originally scheduled seven-inning game goes to extra innings, Stewart Person and James Simmons combined on a two-hit shutout. Person (4-2) went four and one third innings to earn the win, allowing two runs on two hits. Simmons retired all eight batters he faced to earn his first save of the year.
Troy Tarrant had an RBI double in the third inning and Troy Nicholson added an insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth inning.
Abin and John Elmore had the two HPU hits and Nicholson led HSU with two hits in a six-hit attack. Jonathan Morris went the distance for HPU allowing six hits and two runs to fall to 4-5.
The Cowboys' opponent and location for next weekend have not be determined as the games in the ASC East were pushed back a day by weather. Howard Payne finished the year at 14-24.
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