Less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Tarleton State kept them from sweeping a Lone Star Conference doubleheader, the Wildcats blew an 8-3 lead Sunday afternoon as the Texans won the series with a 10-8 victory at Crutcher Scott Field.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 24-22 overall and 11-13 in the LSC, while the Texans improve to 21-19 and 12-12. ACU is just one game ahead of seventh-place Cameron (10-14 in the LSC) with four games to play.
ACU -- which is in the sixth and final spot for the LSC Post-Season Tournament -- will play at Angelo State this weekend in a four-game series to wrap up the regular season, while the Aggies will be at home to take on Tarleton State.
The scenarios for the Wildcats to reach the conference tournament are too convoluted for the Wildcats to worry about heading into the final weekend of the season. Suffice to say, they probably need to win at least two games -- if not three -- from their rivals, who will also be playing for the conference championship. The Rams are currently tied for first with Texas A&M-Kingsville, which will play third-place Incarnate Word in a four-game set this weekend.
The Wildcats appeared to be in good shape midway thorugh Sunday's game after they scored three runs in the third inning for a 4-3 lead, added another run in the fifth to make it 5-3, and then tacked on three more in the sixth to grab an 8-3 lead.
But then the Wildcats' bullpen fell apart in the final three innings.
After Austin Palmer went the first three innings, Brady Rodriguez came on in relief to start the fourth and gave up just one run in three innings. But he was touched for three runs in the seventh, two of them coming home on a Jonathan Schmitz single to left field, cutting the ACU lead to 8-6.
Michael Curtis then came out of the bullpen to start the eighth and promptly gave up back-to-back singles to Chris Patton and Andrew Wolfe before being lifted in favor of Josh Stone.
Stone didn't fare much better as he gave up a walk to load the bases, a sacrifice fly to Ryan Small to make it 8-7, a single to re-load the bases, a walk to tie the game and a sacrifice fly to Garrett Hardey to give the the Texans a 9-8 lead.
In the ninth, Clint Cooper came on and gave up a double to Landon Thompson to lead off the inning, and eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Wolfe to make it 10-8.
ACU had its chances in the ninth as with two outs, Britt Robertshaw walked pinch-hitters Ryan Luckie and Michael Christiani to load the bases for pinch-hitter Kevin Finklea. But Robertshaw set Finklea down on three pitches -- the last one a high fastball that Finklea fanned on -- and the Texans had the win.
For the Wildcats, Rodge Macy was 3 for 4 with three RBI in the game, while Chuck Duarte was 1 for 3 with three runs scored and two RBI.