SAN ANGELO - Austin Palmer's left arm and Travis Schuetze's bat kept the ACU Wildcats' season alive Sunday as they knocked off Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7-2, in a Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament elimination game at Foster Field.
The win pushes ACU to 25-27 on the season and into Monday afternoon's elimination game against an opponent to be determined later Sunday. ACU will play at 3:30 p.m. Monday and, with a win, could play again Monday at 7 p.m. ACU's win eliminates the No. 2 seed Javelinas from the tournament with a 31-16 record.
The Wildcats' win puts an end to an eight-game losing streak, the program's longest skid in head coach Britt Bonneau's 16 seasons.
Palmer entered Sunday's start with a 1-2 record and 5.89 ERA while his opponent on the mound, Jaden Dillon, brought an 8-1 record and 1.80 ERA into the game. Dillon's efforts earned him LSC Pitcher of the Year honors, but the Wildcats gave him a rude send-off to his season by collecting seven hits and six runs (four earned) in six innings.
ACU got on the board with a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Eager that scored Chuck Duarte. The Javelinas got the game tied in the third with a run against Palmer, but the Wildcats went to work in the middle innings to keep their season alive.
First the Wildcats got three runs in the fifth and then two more in the sixth to push their lead to 6-1 over the Javelinas.
In the fifth, Reed Watson reached and went to second on a throwing error by second baseman Ben Villafuerte. Ryan Luckie then dropped down a bunt to move Watson to third, but all runners were safe when Dillon threw late to third in an attempt to throw out the lead runner.
Schuetze then singled through the left side to drive in Watson to make it 2-1. Luckie then scored on a wild pitch, allowing Schuetze to move to third. He then scored when Kevin Finklea lifted a sacrifice fly to right to drive in a run and make it 4-1.
In the sixth, Duncan Blades singled to right with one out in front of a walk by Watson. Luckie grounded out to Dillon, but both runners moved up to give ACU runners at second and third. Schuetze then drove them both in with a single to right field that plated Watson and Blades. Schuetze was thrown at second to end the inning trying to go to second on the throw home.
The Wildcats put another run on the board in the bottom of the seventh when Kyle Conwell delivered an RBI single up the middle that drove in Finklea to make it 7-1.
While the Wildcats were putting together their best offensive outing in a couple of weeks, Palmer shut down Kingsville's offense, scattering eight hits over nine complete innings, his third complete game of the season, but first in a nine-inning game.
Palmer allowed single runs in the third and eighth, but was never in any trouble, allowing just one earned run and throwing 129 pitches in the process.