The 3rd ranked USAO Drovers (2-0) opened the 2020 season with a doubleheader sweep over Our Lady of the Lake University Saints (0-2).
Game 1: Drovers Use Late Runs to Secure Victory
The Drovers beat the Our Lady of the Lake University Saints 5-3 in the season opener, after scoring 3 runs in the final 2 innings. The Drovers sent Sophomore Matt Merrill to the mound. Merrill went 5 innings for USAO, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 9 strikeouts in his season opener. Merrill moves to 1-0 on the season with the win. In relief the Drovers called on Edgar Cuevas and Ricardo Velez. Cuevas threw 1 strong inning allowing 0 hits and 2 strikeouts. Velez would also have a great first outing as he also didn’t allow a hit and he would sit down 1 via the strikeout. Velez would shut the door on this and collect his first save on the season. USAO’s offense would come together with 11 hits during the opener and be led by Luis Pelayo, 2-3 with 2 singles. Joey Pena went 2-4 with 2 singles. Brock Henderson went 2-4 with 2 singles and an RBI (1). Isaac Raab went 1-4 with a double. Ian Laureano went 1-4 with a single and an RBI (1). Cristian Laboy went 1-4 with a single. Sterling Valera went 1-3 with a double and an RBI (1). Colton Bensch went 1-2 with a single and an RBI (1).
Game 2: Drovers Cruise After Great All-Around Performance
The Drovers dominated in game two getting the win 12-2 against the Saints to close out the doubleheader. Senior pitcher Colton Williams took the mound for USAO and would continue to pitch well in a Drover uniform. Williams tossed 5 innings, allowed 1 run on 3 hits and would finish his day with 3 strikeouts. With the win Williams starts the season 1-0 for the Drovers. Out of the bullpen for USAO were Justin Hasek and Clay Teel. Hasek threw 1 inning for the Drovers allowed 1 run on 1 hit and 1 strikeout. Teel also threw 1 inning allowing 0 runs and 0 hits. The USAO offense put together a nice offense outing as they would finish the day with 15 hits and be led by Isaac Raab who went 3-5 with a single, double and homerun (1). Raab would also finish with 4 RBI’s for USAO. Cristian Laboy went 3-5 with 2 singles, a double and finish with 1 RBI. Joey Pena went 3-4 with 2 singles, a double and 1 RBI. Ian Laureano went 2-3 with 2 singles. Luis Pelayo went 1-5 with a single. Brock Henderson went 1-4 with a single. Sterling Valera went 1-4 with a single and an RBI. Colton Bensch went 1-4 with a single for the Drovers. The USAO Drovers look to finish off the series sweep over Our Lady of the Lake University Saints on Saturday, January 25 at Missions Baseball Academy in San Antonio, Texas. First pitch for this contest is scheduled for 12:00 PM CT.
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The Drovers come into 2020 after an impressive 2019 season where they went 49-12 and would add another trip to NAIA World Series to its resume. In the World Series the Drovers would come within one game of the championship game going 3-2 in the tournament. The Drovers have high hopes again as they come into the season ranked #3 in the country and ranked #1 in the Sooner Athletic Conference preseason polls. The Drovers 2019 pitching staff ranked 1st in the NAIA in ERA with a 2.47 team ERA and also were top ranked in strike outs with 554 on the season. In the 2020 season they will be returning the big 3 on the mound. Colton Williams, Matt Merrill and Jean Muntaner. In 2019, Williams went 16-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his 108.2 innings pitched. Merrill went 11-3 with a 2.50 ERA in his 86.1 innings pitched for the Drovers and Muntaner went 13-1 on the season with a 2.86 ERA in his 94.1 innings pitched. The Drovers will also have returning from the 2019 season, Ricardo Velez who really emerged on the stage during the World Series where he was dominant for the Drovers. In that World Series Velez threw 9 innings, with 113 strikouts and allowed just 1 run. Adam Moraga should be a good piece for the Drovers this season. Last season Moraga went 7-4 with a 3.95 ERA for Pima CC in Tucson, Arizona.
Starting Pitcher Matt Merrill said “All our guys are locked in and ready to get out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if we brought back the World Series trophy this year.“
The Drover offense will see some new faces this year and are coming off a 2019 season where they finished 4th in the NAIA in team batting average with .338 and 7th in Runs Batted In per Game with 8 runs per game. The Drovers will return the whole outfield from the 2019 season, in Ian Laureano, Luis Pelayo and Cristian Laboy. Laureano hit .364, with 45 RBI’s and 5 home runs including the walk-off to send the Drovers to the World Series. Pelayo will play a big piece in the USAO offense this season, as he hit .393 with 64 RBI’s and 8 home runs for the Drovers. Laboy hit 287 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s. The offense will be getting the addition of shortstop, Gus Wilson who played in 40 games for Galveston College where he hit .321 with 17 RBI’s on the season.
Starting outfielder Ian Laureano said “Just grateful that I can play another season under Coach Ross and excited for what the season is going to bring for us.“
The Drovers season is set to begin on the road Friday, January 24 when they travel to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. First pitch for this game is set for 1:00 PM CT. USAO will play its first home game on Saturday, February 1 against The University of Saint Mary.
The USAO Drovers (1-1) bounced back in a nice way, as they beat the Southwest Mustangs (1-3) 102-93. The Drovers were led by the Sophomore Cameron Hines, as he racked up 31 points on 10-13 shooting with 9 assists and just 2 turnovers. Ron’Quis Lewis was the main force for the Mustang offense as he would tally 24 points on 7-12 shooting.
In the first half, the Drovers would outscore the Mustangs 54-41 as they would get 20 points from Hines. The Mustangs would get a great first half from Demond Parker as he would finish the half with 13 points. The Drovers would find their way to a first half lead, as they would shoot 62% from the floor, while the Mustangs would shoot 47%. In the first half, the Drovers would dominate the points in the paints as they would score 22 and only allow 8.
In the second half the momentum would flip with the Mustangs outscoring the Drovers 52-48. The Mustangs were led by Lewis as he would tack on 18 points and finish with a team high 24. Hines would again lead the scoring for the Drovers with 11 but would be closely followed by Geno Artison and Marquise Williams. Artison and Williams would both finish the half with 9 points each. In the second half the Drovers shot 51%, as the Mustangs would shoot 56%. The Drovers would piece together a strong night from behind the arc as they went 8-20 (40%).
The Drovers would get a well-played game from Artison, as he finished with 16 points and 8 boards. Williams would pick up 16 points of his own and would battle to grab 5 rebounds on the night. The Mustangs had a well-played game from Josh Harris as he added 18 points on 7-10 shooting. Emmanuel McNeil tallied 15 points and racked up 9 rebounds. The Drovers outrebounded the Mustangs, 35-32. The Drovers would get a big game on the glass from Junior Dedrian Parmer as he picked up 8 rebound and tacked on 7 points to finish off his night. The Drovers defense was able to win another important categories, as they would force 16 turnover and only have 9 of their own.
Sophomore Guard Cameron Hines said “We bounced back after a tough loss on Saturday. I thought our offensive execution was great, but we still have a long ways to go on the defensive end. We’re looking forward to our next game Friday against a tough opponent in Randall. “
This week in college football was yet another wild weekend. Number one Alabama got beat by Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Number two Miami got beat by Pittsburgh. The rankings will shift a lot following both of those losses. Alabama will have a tough time getting into the playoffs following their loss.
1. Oklahoma (11-1)
This is a very good Oklahoma Sooners team who has bounced back following a loss to Iowa State. Since that loss, the Sooners are scoring 46 points per game. The Sooners are led by Heisman trophy favorite Baker Mayfield. He has thrown for 37 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The leading rusher for the Sooners, is Rodney Anderson. He has rushed for 867 yards and tacked on 11 touchdowns. Oklahoma has had significant help from wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. He has 741 yards receiving and 7 touchdown catches. Tight end Mark Andrews has 848 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. The leader of this defense is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. He has 64 tackles and 17 tackles for loss.
2. Clemson (11-1)
The Clemson Tigers, just like Oklahoma had to bounce back from a tough loss to Syracuse. Since that loss Clemson is averaging 39 points per game. This season Clemson is averaging 457 yards and giving up 290 yards per game. The Tigers quarterback, is Kelly Bryant. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns and rushed for 10 touchdowns. The leading rusher for Clemson is Travis Etienne. He has 679 yards and 11 touchdowns and is averaging 68 yards per game. On the defensive side, the leading tackler is Dorian O’Daniel. He has 90 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss.
3. Auburn (10-2)
The Auburn Tigers could be the first two lost team, to make the playoffs. The Tigers suffered a loss to Clemson and LSU. This Auburn team is averaging 37 points and giving up just 16 points per contest. Auburn is carried by their running attack, led by Kerryon Johnson. He has 1,276 yards and 17 touchdowns. The leading passer for the Tigers is Jarrett Stidham. He has thrown for 2,682 yards and 16 touchdowns. The leading tackler for the Tigers, is Deshaun Davis. He has 65 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.
4. Wisconsin (12-0)
The Wisconsin Badgers finished off the perfect season at 12-0. The Badgers are scoring 35 points per game and allowing just 12 points per game. The leading rusher for the Badgers is Jonathan Taylor. He has 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. The leading passer for Wisconsin is Alex Hornibrook. He has thrown for 2,157 yards and 21 touchdowns. T.J. Edwards lead this defense in tackles for a loss with 11. The leading tackler for the Badgers is, Ryan Connelly. He has 71 tackles and 10 tackles for loss.