St. Edward’s baseball gets swept in Battle of the Saints series, seeking wins

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St. Edward’s baseball gets swept in Battle of the Saints series, seeking wins

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Amanda Gonzalez

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It’s not often that the St. Edward’s University baseball team is on the losing side of a series sweep, especially in conference play. But that’s exactly what happened this week as the Hilltoppers hosted St. Mary’s University for a doubleheader on Wednesday and the series finale on Thursday.

“Each game is different, and you’re going to have different obstacles,” senior right fielder Romeo Cortina, Jr. said. “We know St. Mary’s is our rival, and they’ll play us tough. We just wanted to get the W, but I mean it’s unfortunate we dropped three, so we’ve got work to do.”

In the last two weeks, St. Edward’s has quickly fallen four places down to the No. 6 seed in the Heartland Conference standings with a 9-9 conference record. Meanwhile, No. 3 St. Mary’s has garnered a 10-5 record. 

“Really, the bats are what went silent, for whatever reason. That happens sometimes, but for this team to have that type of three-game stretch is very odd,” Rob Penders, St. Edward’s head coach, said to SEU Athletics.

In the Battle of the Saints series, St. Edward’s had 21 scoreless innings. St. Mary’s had six players have multi-hit games, while St. Edward’s had only two. 

Game 1 was a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the sixth inning when senior third baseman Hunter Courson hit an RBI-single to get the Hilltoppers on the board. The Rattlers responded with two doubles in the seventh inning from infielders Donnie Perez and Jacob Aguilar to make the final score 2-1.

In Game 2 and 3, St. Edward’s was at risk of shutout losses until Cortina hit a solo home run in each game. 

The score for Game 2 remained 7-1. For St. Mary’s, designated hitter Jack Kaiser hit a two-run home run in the first inning, shortstop Bryan Ramirez was a home run shy of the cycle and pitcher Chris Jones threw a complete game.

Game 3 featured an attempt at a rally with two runs added in the eighth inning with three consecutive hits from junior pinch hitter Derek Thompson, Cortina, and senior catcher Gable Whitacre. The final score was 7-3.

“I just got to help the team win. It’s not about me or Gable or anyone on our team. It’s about winning and competing,” Cortina said. “Yeah I did well, but if we didn’t get the win, then it doesn’t really mean anything.”

In the series before St. Mary’s, the Hilltoppers lost two out of three games, but scored 23 runs in the final game against No. 1 Lubbock Christian University (11-3) on April 7.

As for the rest of the Heartland Conference, No. 2 is University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (11-4) and there is a 10-5 tie for the No. 4 spot between and Rogers State University and Oklahoma Christian University. The No. 7 seed belongs to Newman University (5-10).

“We definitely have a chance. Anything can happen, but we can’t worry about not making the postseason. We’ve got to take it one day at a time,” Cortina said.

St. Edward’s has two remaining conference series, and those six games are critical in determining where the Hilltoppers will finish their regular season. The opponents are the two last places teams: No. 8 Texas A&M-International (4-11) and No. 9 Oklahoma Panhandle State University (1-14).

“We’ve got two series left, so all we got to do is focus and play one game at a time,” Cortina said. “Just try to get the W and sweep from now on.”