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ACU earns much-needed win over Lamar

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ABILENE, Texas - On a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon at Crutcher Scott Field, the ACU Wildcats re-discovered the age-old formula for winning baseball games: good starting pitching, outstanding relief pitching, timely offense and solid defense.

It was a plan they used to get off to a 9-6 start to their season, couldn't figure out over the last five weeks, but re-deployed Sunday in a 9-0 win over Lamar in the finale of a three-game Southland Conference series between the teams at ACU's home park.

Keaton Brewer (five innings in the start to earn his first win as a Wildcat) and Jonah Smith (four innings of no-hit relief to pick up his first collegiate save) were the heroes on the mound for the Wildcats, who are now 11-25 overall and 2-19 in the conference. Both of ACU's wins have been via shutout: 5-0 over Incarnate Word and Sunday's 9-0 victory.

Brewer gave up three singles to start the game in the first inning, loading the bases and putting himself on shaky ground. But he got a double play and a groundout to shortstop to stifle the threat and cruised from there. He only allowed one more hit in his final four innings and never allowed a Lamar runner past second base.

Smith came in after Brewer walked Adam Silvers to start the sixth and then walked Brynden Arredondo to put runners at first and second. With the Lamar bench getting after the Wildcats' freshman pitcher, he started 2-0 to Cole Coker before he got him to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to silence the Cardinals. He then got Chad Fleischman to fly out to center to end the inning. He faced the minimum nine batters in the final three innings, erasing a leadoff walk in the ninth inning with a double play and then striking out Fleischman to end the game.

"It's been a while since we've had a game pitched that well in conference play," ACU head coach Britt Bonneau said, "and it was really nice to watch. We didn't have to make too many decisions today in the dugout because Brewer and Smith threw the ball so well. Getting out of the first inning without giving up any runs was huge for Keaton's confidence and he cruised his last four innings. His pitch count was a little bit high (98 pitches) when we took him out, and then Jonah came in and threw as well as he's thrown all season. Really proud of the way both of those guys competed on the mound."

The Wildcats' offense - one of the best in the league - once again had little trouble putting up runs, and that helped Brewer and Smith throw strikes and get outs. ACU got on top 2-0 in the first inning when Dalon Farkas delivered a two-out, two-run double to left-centerfield to plate Derek Scott and Anthony Dominguez.

Three innings later the Wildcats put together their biggest inning of the season when they scored seven runs on eight hits. Aaron Draper led off the inning with a double and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cole Solomon. Mark Pearson then delivered an RBI single to plate Draper to make it a 3-0 ACU lead.

Russell Crippen and Derek Scott then followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to make it 5-0 before Luis Trevino walked and then scored on a three-run home run by Dominguez, driving in Scott and Trevino in front of him to to make it 8-0. Farkas then doubled and went to third on a Koby Claborn groundout. Draper then squeezed Farkas in and was safe on the surprise bunt to make it a 9-0 ACU lead.

That was plenty of offense for the Wildcats, who played just their second error-free game this season in conference play with the other being the 5-0 win over Incarnate Word on March 12.

"It was good to see that team back out on the field (Sunday)," Bonneau said. "We know we can hit and score runs, but if we can pitch like that and play defense like we did (Sunday) with four double plays, I believe we can do some good things in our last 20 games of the season."

The Wildcats will return to Crutcher Scott Field at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when they host Dallas Baptist (24-15) of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Patriots are hitting .289 as a team and have blasted 58 home runs on the season.

Courtesy ACU Athletics.

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