Baseball: #8 Drovers Set To Battle #14 Rams

No. 8 USAO Drovers vs. No. 14 Texas Wesleyan Rams
When: April 19&20, 2019
Where: Sycamore Park in Fort Worth, Texas Time: Friday at 2 p.m.; Saturday at 12 & 2 p.m.
Series Record: Texas Wesleyan leads, 10-9 dating back to 2008.

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Friday: USAO JR. Jean Mutaner (9-1, 1.91) vs TWU SR. Cameron Vige (7-2, 4.32)

Saturday G1: USAO FR. Matt Merrill (8-1, 1.72) vs TWU JR. Josh Brown (4-1, 2.78)

Saturday G2: USAO JR. Colton Williams (11-0, 1.23) vs TWU JR. Houston Glad (9-2 , 3.15)

With the regular season winding down every game becomes more and more critical. The 8th ranked USAO Drovers (34-10, 18-3 SAC) are heading down to Fort Worth to take on the 14th ranked Texas Wesleyan Rams (37-9, 16-4 SAC) in a premier matchup. This matchup is also featured as the NAIA Ball (@NAIABALL on twitter) game of the week.

What To Know About USAO:

The Drovers come into this game on a 12 game win streak which includes a series sweeps over Wayland Baptist and Panhandle State University. The Drovers are coached by head coach Mike Ross. Ross is in his 11th season with the Drovers as he has secured 300 wins and 2 World Series appearance during his time at USAO. Assistant Coach Tyle Hankins is in his 1st season with Drovers and most recently spent time with Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

The pitching staff for the Drovers has been lights out all season long as they led the league in earned run average with a solid 2.20 ERA on the season. USAO also ranks 2nd in opponent batting average as they have held opposing team to a .176 batting average. The Drovers starting pitcher staff is led by the trio of Colton Williams, Matt Merrill and Jean Muntaner. Williams currently sitting at 11-0 on the season with a 1.23 ERA which ranks him second in the NAIA. Merrill is 8-1 on the Season with a 1.72 ERA. Merrill is currently holding opponents to a .136 batting on the season which ranks him first in the NAIA. Muntaner is 9-1 on the season with a 1.91 ERA. Muntaner has picked up 61.1 innings for the Drovers and has racked up 63 strikeouts on the season. Out of the bullpen the Drovers rely on righy Rudy Gonzalez to carry the majority of the load. He is currently 3-2 on the season with a 1.28 ERA. Gonzalez has thrown 49.1 innings for the Drovers and is holding opponents batting average to .153 on the season.

The offense for the Drovers has picked up here lately and during this 12 game win streak they are averaging 10 runs per game. The offense ranks 11th in the NAIA with a .332 batting average for the season. The Drovers also sit 14th in the NAIA in runs score per game averaging 8 runs per game. The offense is led by Luis Pelayo, who is currently batting .388 on the season with 5 home runs and 47 RBI’s. The Drovers are getting solid play from the Catcher Alex Sanchez as he is tearing up the baseball as of late. In his last 10 games Sanchez has collected 9 home runs and has added 24 RBI’s to his total. On the season, Sanchez is hitting .382 and has 48 RBI’s. P.J. Garcia has put together a good Senior campaign hitting .381 with 4 home runs and 29 RBI’s on the season.

Shortstop P.J. Garcia said “This weekend is a big series for us. Lately, we have been playing really well as a team. Pitching has been outstanding all year and our hitting is coming back around. Coach has been telling us lately to play each game as an elimination game, and that’s been our mindset. We, as a team, need to continue that mindset and focus on us and what we are doing. Excited for this weekend and what’s to come.”

Catcher Alex Sanchez said “I’ll tell you this much Texas Wesleyan is always a in the top contenders. They also show up to play every game. This is no doubt the most important series of the year due to the set backs we’ve had on our team. At the end of the day if they bring their A game and we do as well we are coming out on top.”

What To Know About Texas Wesleyan:

The Rams currently are just 1 game out of first place but own the tie breaker over Oklahoma City after beat the Stars in that series back on March 30th. The Rams are coached by Head Coach Bobby Garza, who was the assistant for 4 year at Texas Wesleyan before taking over the head coaching job just last season. The Assistant Coach for the Rams is Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach is in his 3rd season as the assistant coach with the Rams.

The Rams offense currently ranks 28th in the country in batting average with a .316 team average . The offense is led by Caden Williams who is hitting .458 with 2 home runs and 17 RBI’s. Michael Davila is hitting .354 on the season with 3 home runs and 40 runs for the Rams on the season. Sheadion Jamankia is hitting .359 for the Rams with 3 home runs, 33 RBI’s and 19 walks on the season.

The pitching staff for the Rams has been dominate as they rank 2nd in total batter struck out with 402 on the season and are ranked 16th in opponent batting average, holding opponents to a .233 average on the season. Houston Glad has been impressive this season as he is currently 9-2 with a 3.15 ERA for the Rams. Glad has tallied 68.2 innings for the Rams and has collected 79 strikeouts on the season. Cameron Vige is another key arm for the Rams as he is 7-2 with a 4.32 ERA on the season. Vige has thrown 66.2 innings on the season and has held opponents to a .237 batting average. The Rams go-to guy out of the bullpen has been Parker Robinson who has tallied 47 innings with a 1.72 ERA and 64 strikeouts.

Texas Wesleyan Pitcher Houston Glad said “This weekend is a huge for both teams, it could decide the 1 and 2 seed for the conference tournament. The games are going to be a battle. Both pitching staffs have been great so far this year. I’m looking forward to some highly competitive games this weekend at Sycamore Park.”

Rams Pitcher Parker Robinson said “This is a big series for us, I’m confident in our guys and what we bring to the table to be able to compete with anyone in the nation. This season has gone well so far for us because we all have one common goal in mind and play for each other. It’s going to be a huge weekend for us in the conference, and I’m excited to go out and compete.”

Special Guest Pickers:

Cody From @NAIABall on twitter

Pick: USAO (3-0) sweeps the series

“Another NAIA Ball Series of the Week appearance for USAO, I’m rolling with the Drovers in Fort Worth. Bottom line: USAO has the best staff in the nation and it’ll carry over out in Texas. I expect all three games to be competitive but USAO will rise up to their competition this weekend with the SAC on the line.”

Robby Gutierrez from @NAIABall on twitter

Pick: 2-1 USAO

“A huge Sooner Athletic Conference matchup between two top 25 teams in Ft. Worth! USAO has arguably the best staff in the nation posting a 2.16 era through 43 games. Texas Wesleyan swings the bat well hitting .316 avg as a team. If USAO can have its staff go deep into games and silence the Rams bats then the Drovers will win the series”

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Sooner Athletic Conference: Weekend Series Previews

USAO VS Central Christian

This series is set to be played March 16 and March 17, it will be played at Central Christian. The USAO Drovers (10) come into this series, with a very respectable 17-3 record. The Central Christian Tigers, will come into this series with a record of 4-24. The Tigers are coming off a huge 6-5 win over the Oklahoma City Stars, on Monday.

On the offensive side the Tigers are led by, Shomari Cann. He is hitting .366 with 4 home runs, and 14 RBI’s. The Tigers are getting outscored 294-95 on the season. The Tigers pitching staff is carried by Cameron Bonds, he has thrown 19 2/3 innings and is 2-0 with a 10.07 ERA. Bonds wins have come against Southwestern Christian and Oklahoma City. The Tigers have a combined .230 batting average, as they are allowing a .351 batting average.

The Drovers are on top of the Sooner Athletic Conference, as they have a 17-3 record and are 5-1 in the SAC. They are coming of a loss to SWOSU, where they would be defeated 8-5. The Drovers bats, just continue to stay hot, as they are led by P.J. Garcia. He is hitting ..476 with 5 home runs, and has 23 RBI’s. Another notable bat for USAO is Greg Barnette, as he is hitting .429 with 3 home runs, and 20 RBI’s. The bullpen is led by Angel Reyes, as he has a 2.50 ERA and is 2-0 on the season. Reyes is holding oppenents to a .152 batting average.  This starting pitching staff, is very strong with a combine 3.33 ERA. They are led by two Seniors, Jose Hidalgo and Francis Ventura. Hidalgo is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, and oppenents are hitting .190 against him. Ventura is currently 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA, he has kept the ball inside the ballpark as he has allowed 0 home runs on the season.

March 16– 6:00 P.M.

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M.

USAO Head Coach Mike Ross said “We haven’t been on the road in awhile so that will be a challenge. CC had a big win this week so they are playing good. We have to be ready to play and not take anything for granted”

Wayland Baptist Vs Southwestern Christian (Okla.)

This series is set to begin on March and finish up on March 17, this series will be played at Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas. The Wayland Baptist Pioneers (18), come into this series with a 17-7 record. They are coming off a 10-7 victory, over Our Lady Of The Lakes University. The Southwestern Christian Eagles, come into this series with a 16-7 recond. They are coming off a 15-9 win over Tabor, and last weekend they swept Oklahoma Panhandle State.

The Eagles offense ranks 8th in runs scored per game, with 9 runs per game. The pitching staff is also hold oppenents to a low .215 batting average. The offense is led by Slayton Vaughan, as he is hitting .405 and has hit 4 home runs. He is also has a .494 on base percentage, which is the best on the team. The bullpen, is carried by Shelby Sherrill. He has thrown 18 1/3 innings, has still yet to give up a run. Sherrill is also 2-0 on the season, including wins over Southwestern and Tabor. The pitching staff is carried by Victor Del Carmen and Juan Carlos Gonzalez. Carmen is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA, and Gonzalez is also 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA.

The Pioneers offense, is ranked 4th in home runs per game with 1.33. This Wayland Baptist offense is explosive at times, and they are led by Gregg Veneklasen. He is hitting .390, 6 doubles, and has 11 home runs which is 1st in the NAIA. Another key to this offense, is Nick Rucker. He is hitting .371 with 8 doubles, and 4 home runs. This bullpen is led by Jonathan Frost, as is 3-1 with a team best 2.04 ERA. He is also holding oppenents to a .239 batting average. The pitching staff is led by Kevin Torres, he is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Torres has thrown 34 innings, and has thrown 2 complete games.

March 16- 4 & 7 P.M.

March 17- 1:00 P.M.

Texas Weslayan Vs Southwestern Assemblies of God University

This series is set to begin on March 16 and rap up on March 17, they will be playing one game on the 16th at Texas Wesleyan and two game on the 17th at SAGU. The Texas Wesleyan Rams (18), are coming into this series with a 14-7 record. The Rams are coming off a 13-4 Win against LSU Alexandria. The SAGU Lions are 8-17, and are 1-11 in conference play. The Lions are coming off a 9-5 loss, against Jarvis Christian.

The Rams offense, is led by Kiki Menendez. He is hitting .375 with 6 doubles and 6 home runs. Menendez also has a .440 on base percentage. The Rams are loaded with great arm, as they have a combined ERA of 4.28. The bullpen is carried by Alex Davis, as he has thrown 20 2/3 innings and has a 2.18 ERA. Davis is holding hitter to a .178 batting average. The starting pitching staff, is led by Brad Sugg and Stephen Yancey. Sugg is 4-0 on the season, with a 2.20 ERA. He is holding hitter to a .215 ERA. Yancey is 3-2 on the season, with a 2.21 ERA. He has thrown 43 strikeouts on the season, and is holding hitters to a .180 batting average.

The Lions offense is led by Jake Payonk, as he is hitting .351 with 5 doubles and 1 home run. The bullpen is led by Houston Johnson, as he has thrown just 4 1/3 but still hadn’t gave up a run. Johnson is holding hitter to a .188 batting average. The Starting pitching staff is led by Lorenzo Galicia. He has thrown 20 1/3 innings and has a 4.87 ERA. In the last conference series the Lions played, they were able to beat Bacone once by the score of 2-1.

March 16- 3:00 P.M. @Texas Wesleyan

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M. @SAGU

Texas Wesleyan Head Coach Bobby Garza said “We are entering the final 3 games of a 9 games in 9 days stretch. The players have done a great job of handling this period of the schedule. We are coming off 2 good wins and look forward to finishing the weekend strong.”

Oklahoma City Vs Bacone

This series is set to begin on March 15th and finish on March 17th, they will play one on the 15th at Bacone and two on the 17th at Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Stars (4) are currently 17-5. The Stars have hit a little rough patch as they have lost 3 in a row, including dropping 2 conference games to Wayland Baptist and Central Christian. The Bacone Warriors are 7-15, and are coming off  a 10-3 loss against Texas College.

The Stars are ranked number 1 in runs scored per game, with 10 per contest. The offense is carried Lane Milligan, as he is hitting .474 with 8 triples and 4 home runs. Lane Milligan has also drove in 29 stars during the season. Another big contributor to this offense is Garrett Foster. He is hitting .421 and has 13 doubles and 4 home runs. The bullpen is carried by Tanner Andrews, as he has thrown 8 inning and has a 2.25 ERA. Andrews has held oppenents to .172 batting average. The starting pitching staff is held down by Bryce Milligan. He has thrown 27 innings and has a 2.67 ERA. Milligan is holding hitters to a .173 batting average.

The Warriors offense is led by Corben Henry. He is hitting .326 and has 3 triples, and has drew 19 walks on the season. The bullpen is led by Alex Dominguez, as he has throw 4 2/3 innings, and has a 1.93 ERA. Dominguez has struck out 8 batters, and only allowed 1 walk. The starting pitching staff, is led by Kyler Johnson. He is 2-3 on the season, with a 4.31 ERA and he is holding hitters to a .281 batting average.

March 15- 2:00 P.M. @Bacone

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M. @Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Head Coach Denney Crabaugh said “We have to show up mentally and emotionally ready and focused on doing the things that we need to do to win ball games if we do that then I’m confident the scoreboard will take care of itself”

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The Drovers Take 2 Of 3 From Saints In Opening Series

GAME 1:

The Lady Of The Lake Saints defeated the USAO Drovers, by the score of 4-2.

USAO

In this game, the the Drovers sent Tucker White to the mound, as he went 4 innings and gave up just 2 hits. The Droves has to use 3 relief pitchers in this game, including Corey Korenic, Justin Hasek, and Angel Reyes. Korenic went 1 inning, and didn’t allow a hit. Hasek went 0.2 innings and gave up 3 runs on 2 hits. Reyes went 0.1 innings and gave up 1 run on 1 hit.

The offense for USAO was held to just 3 hits. The bats for the Drovers would be led by Greg Barnette, as he would go 1-2 with a double and a walk. P.J. Garcia went 1-3 with a single and a walk. Miguel Lorenzo went 1-3 with a single and walk.

Lady Of The Lakes:

The Saints sent Jordan Hackett to the hill, as he would throw 5 innings and allow 1 run on 3 hits. The Saints would have 2 relievers in the game, Logan Garza and Ty Cook. Garza and Cook would both pitch one scoreless inning.

The bats for the Saints collected 5 hits, led by Jose Diaz as he would go 2-3 with 2 singles and a walk. Daniel Anciso would go 1-3 with a single and a walk. Russell Brown would go 1-2 with a double and a walk. Xavier Solis would go 1-2 with a double and a walk.

Winning pitcher: Logan Garza (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Justin Hasek (0-1)

Save: Ty Cook (1)

Player of the game:

Jose Diaz- He would go 2-3, and have 2 singles and draw a walk.

GAME 2:

In the second game of this series, the Drovers cruise to a 12-1 victory of the Saints.

USAO:

The Drovers sent Jose Hidalgo to the mound, and he pitched a gem. Hidalgo pitched 6 innings, and gave up 0 runs on 1 hit. He also finished the day with 10 strikeouts. The only relief pitcher for USAO was Mason Stasyszen, he threw 1 inning and gave up 0 runs on 0 hits. He also finished with 3 strikeouts.

The bats for the Drovers collected 14 hits, and they were led by P.J. Garcia as he would go 3-4 with a double and 2 singles. Stevie Thompson went 2-5 with a double and a single. Miguel Lorenzo went 2-4 with 2 singles and a RBI. Alex Sanchez went 2-4 with a solo homerun (1) , and a single. Sergio Mendez went 2-4 with 2 singles and 2 RBI’s. Wyatt Hull went 1-4 with a single, and 2 RBI’s. Kenniel Rivera went 1-5 with a single. Henry Rodriguez went 1-4 with a single.

Lady Of The Lakes:

The Saints sent J.B. Martinez to the mound, where he would throw just 2 innings and give up 2 runs on 3 hits.

The bats for the Saints were held to just 1 hit. Daniel Anciso went 1-3 with a single. The Saints we’re held to an .043 batting average, by Jose Hidalgo.

Winning pitcher: Jose Hidalgo (1-0)

Losing pitcher: J.B. Martinez (0-1)

Player of the game:

Jose Hidalgo- He threw 6 innings, and struck out 10 of the Saints hitters.

GAME 3:

In the final game of this series, the Drovers beat the Saints 4-3 in an extra inning battle.

USAO:

The Drovers sent Stephen Wright to the mound, where he would throw 5 innings and give up 0 runs on 0 hits. The Drovers also used 2 relievers, Corey Korenic and Angel Reyes. Korenic threw 2 innings and gave up 0 runs on 0 hits. Reyes threw 4 innings, and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits. He also struck out 7 Saints hitters during 4 innings.

The USAO bats collected 9 hits, led by Miguel Lorenzo as he would go 2-4 with 2 singles. Henry Rodriguez went 2-5 with 2 singles. Stevie Thompson went 2-4 with 2 singles. Sergio Mendez went 1-4 with a single. Greg Barnette went 1-5 with a single. Alex Sanchez went 1-6 with a single.

Lady Of The Lakes:

The Saints sent Garrett Moltzan to the mound, as he would throw 4 1/3 innings and give up 2 runs on 3 hits. The Saints has to use 4 relievers, Logan Garza, Ty Cook, Alex Martinez, Tony Esparza. Garza would throw 2 1/3 innings, and give up 1 run on 3 hits. Cook threw 0.1 innings and gave up 0 runs on 0 hits. Martinez would throw 3.2 innings and give up 1 run on 3 hits. Esparza threw 0.1 innings and gave up 0 runs.

The bats for the Saints collected just 3 hits, as they were led by Russell Brown as he would go 1-4 with a 2 run homerun (1). Robert Lopez went 1-5 with a solo homerun (1). Jose Diaz went 1-5 with a double.

Winning pitcher: Angel Reyes (1-0)

Losing pitcher: Ty Cook (0-1)

Player of the game:

Stephen Wright- He threw 5 scoreless innings for the Drovers, and didn’t allow a hit.

USAO’s shortstop P.J. Garcia said “We started off slow on the offensive side and lost a tough one in the first game. We bounced back in the second game and we strung a lot of hits together. The third game we fought hard and came together as a team to pull out a win and the series win. Our pitching was very good this weekend. We got to take it a day at a time and trust the process.

Kenniel Rivera