Courtesy University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Athletics Department
Perhaps the UAFS Diamond Lions are a warm weather team.
After losing to Texas A&M International 13-3 in a run-rule on a windy, cold Saturday afternoon, the Diamond Lions appeared to an entirely different team on Sunday when the temperatures rose into the upper 60s under the bright afternoon sunshine.
UAFS won a pitcher’s duel 1-0 in the opening game of Sunday’s Heartland Conference doubleheader and then run-ruled Texas A&M International 14-4 to win the series in the second game at Crowder Field.
It was the second conference series win for UAFS (5-4, 5-4), which was coming off a 2-1 series win against then No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s last weekend at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
Texas A&M International was the hottest team in the conference coming into the three-game weekend series, but the Dustdevils (9-2, 7-2) left with their first series loss of the young season.
Lions junior Koby Chadick (2-1) scattered five hits in the opener with three walks and two strikeouts to earn the win in seven-plus innings of shutout baseball. Working with a 1-0 lead, he gave way to sophomore closer Hasten Freeman with one on and no outs in the top of the seventh inning after giving up a leadoff walk to Dustdevils catcher Sean Smedley, who was replaced by pinch runner Ryan Jozwiak.
A sacrifice bunt by second baseman Jaron Shimmel moved Jozwiak into scoring position, and Jozwiak advanced to third on a grounder back to the Freeman for the second out. Freeman polished off his third save in as many opportunities by getting center fielder Jeff Anderson to tap a weak ground ball to third for the final out.
Texas A&M International had five hits, but no Dustdevil collected multiple hits.
UAFS scored all the runs it needed in the first inning. Senior right fielder Dax Dupire led off with a walk from Dustdevils starter Abdel Rivera. Dupire moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Ryan Gros and advanced to third on a single to center field by left fielder Madison Beaird.
Beaird stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Rivera uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Dupire to score what turned into the game-winning run. Rivera recovered and struck out designated hitter Josh Gibson and got catcher Ben Smith to foul out to first base to end the inning.
That was the only bad inning for Rivera (2-1), who allowed only two hits with two walks and one strikeout in a complete-game effort. He didn’t surrender his second hit until the sixth inning when Dupire singled with one out.
The Diamond Lions didn’t waste any time breaking the second game open, scoring runs in the first five innings. UAFS led 5-2 before erupting for six runs in the bottom of the four inning on five hits to push its lead to 11-2.
Beaird had a RBI double, right fielder Kyle Dickens had a RBI single, first baseman Gordon Miller was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, third baseman Adam Baker drove in another run with a fielder’s choice, designated hitter Christian Allen walked and scored on a wild pitch and freshman shortstop Ozzie Hurt had a RBI single during the big inning.
UAFS collected a season-high 18 hits off four Texas A&M International pitchers. Smith was 4 for 5 with four RBI, Dickens was 4 for 5 with two RBI, Beaird was 3 for 4 with two RBI, Gros was 3 for 5, Miller was 1 for 2 with one RBI, Baker was 1 for 3 with two RBI and Hurt was 2 for 4 with one RBI.
Dustdevils starter Manolo Mendoza (0-1) suffered the loss in two-plus innings, allowing five runs – four earned – on eight hits.
UAFS starter Neil Smith (2-1) earned the win, allowing four runs – all earned – on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six complete innings. Texas A&M International had six hits in all. Designate hitter Hector Gonzalez was 2 for 4 with one RBI and was the only Dustdevil with multiple hits.
UAFS 1, TAMIU 0
TAMIU 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
UAFS 100 000 x — 1 2 1
Rivera and Smedley; Chadick, Freeman (7) and B. Smith. W – Chadick, 2-1. L – Rivera, 2-1. Sv – Freeman (3). HRs – None.
UAFS 14, TAMIU 4
TAMIU 001 102 0 — 4 6 3
UAFS 212 610 2 — 14 18 0
Mendoza, Dickerson (3), Curnel (4), Williams (4) and Smedley; N. Smith, Hammer (7) and B. Smith. W – N. Smith, 2-1. L – Mendoza, 0-1. HRs – None.