GEORGETOWN, Texas — Sophomore second baseman Seth Sparks ripped a walk-off RBI single up the middle to give the Southwestern University Pirates baseball team a 5-4 victory over the University of Texas-Dallas Comets in a 12-inning, four-hour nail-biter.
Austin Smith took the mound for the Pirates, giving another dominant start in a game-long pitching duel that spanned across both teams' bullpens.
Smith, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) leader in strikeouts (and 12th-ranked nationally), mixed his pitch selection up beautifully. The sophomore pitcher broke pitches across the corners of the strike zone then sent hitters chasing balls out of it, striking out six of the first eight batters he faced with one hitter reaching on an error in the top of the first inning and the other on a walk in the second.
The Comets broke through first in the top of the third inning. Smith started the inning with his seventh strikeout, then induced a groundout two feet in front of the catcher for a quick two outs. Then control issues started creeping in, giving up a walk and a single up the middle. Both runners advanced to scoring positions on a balk and Smith gave up the first run of the game on a wild pitch before getting out of the inning.
Smith continued with minor control issues in the top of the fourth, giving up a leadoff single, striking out the next batter, then walking the next two to load the bases before giving up a Matt Mikusek RBI on a fielder's choice on a failed double play attempt. Smith walked the next batter before picking up another strikeout to end the inning.
UT-Dallas went to the bullpen to start the fourth, putting Adam Cook in for Ryan Vera; throwing off the Pirates' timing with a change of pace and inducing two pop-outs and a grounder to retire three of the four batters.
Smith went through the fifth inning unscathed, striking out one and getting a groundout to first and infield pop up for the Pirate defense's first three-up, three-down inning. The Pirates' ace went five innings total, striking out 10 of the 24 batters he faced with two hits, six walks, and two earned runs given up.
The Comets switched pitchers in the fifth and sixth innings, keeping Southwestern off-balance while scoring an unearned run in the sixth off an error with Machi Horne pitching for a 3-2 lead.
Southwestern tied the game in the bottom of the eight on a two-out, RBI double from Ethan Hallmark to right field.
Trey Schwarz took the mound for Southwestern in the 11th inning, ending Horne's afternoon after four innings with just two hits and a run given up with three walks. Schwarz walked the first batter then had another reach on an error before giving up a run on a RBI-single up the middle before getting out of the inning.
The Pirates got three hits in the bottom of the inning, capped off by a Byron Dowdell II RBI-single to right field, scoring Craig.
Schwarz retired the side in the 12th inning, setting the stage for Sparks' heroics to give the Pirates their fifth win of the season at 5-2.
Craig was 2-for-4 with two runs scored from the leadoff spot with Montgomery putting in two hits, a walk, and a run scored behind him. Batting cleanup, Dowdell was 2-for-5 with three RBI and a walk. Hallmark and Sparks each had a RBI from the seventh and eighth spots.
The Pirates will host the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Friday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m. for a single game before traveling for a doubleheader against the Crusaders the next day at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.