Hawks Pick Up 7-3 Win to Open Region V
FORT WORTH -- Howard College's Hawks baseball team is on the verge of history.
The Hawks won their opening round game of the Region V Tournament Sunday, defeating North Central Texas College, 7-3, at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth.
The win makes the No. 1 Hawks 55-0 on the season and ties the all-time win streak record held by Seminole (Okla.) Community College. The Hawks can take sole possession of the record Monday, when they play rival Midland College in the quarterfinals of the winner's bracket.
The Hawks got off to a slow start at the plate and found themselves down 2-0 after two innings of play. NCTC got on the board after catcher Ryan Morgan led off the second with a double to left. Morgan scored two batters later when Nick Ochoa singled. Ochoa scored courtesy of a two-out triple by third baseman Daniel Sciantarelli.
Howard finally got to NCTC starter Kyle Felts in the bottom of the third, when Joe Leftridge led off with a single. Leftridge scored two batters later when catcher Miles Hamblin doubled. Hamblin was plated by Monk Kreder's single, tying the game at 2.
NCTC wasted no time retaking the lead as Morgan led off the fourth inning with a solo homer over the left field wall.
However, from there, Howard starter Zach Neal settled down and allowed just two more base hits and no runs over the final five innings.
Neal pitched a complete game, striking out 12 batters and allowing three earned runs on six hits and one walk.
The Hawks took the lead, 4-3, in the bottom of the fourth, when Runey Davis connected for a 2-RBI double off the wall in left center, scoring Will Calhoun and Andrew Collazo.
Howard added another two runs in the fifth, extending its lead to 6-3. Kreder led off the frame with a double. He was joined on the basepaths by Nick Popescu, who drew a walk. Calhoun had a bloop single to left to load the bases.
With two outs, Davis, who leads the Hawks with 32 stolen bases, showed off his speed by beating out a throw from NCTC shortstop Jesse Payne, allowing Kreder to score from third.
With the bags still juiced, Leftridge got hit by a pitch, forcing in another run.
Howard's final run of the game came in the seventh after Calhoun led off the frame with a double and then scored when Collazo followed him with a single.
Earlier this season, Howard swept a four-game series with Midland, but not without any drama.
In Game 3 of the series, Howard trailed Midland 5-4 going into the top of seventh and final inning. Collazo led off with a solo homer over right and ignited a 6-run rally. The Hawks ended up winning, 10-5.
Howard College 7, North Central Texas 3
NCTC 020 100 000--3 6 1
HC 002 220 10x--7 13 0
Kyle Felts, Garrett Laird (5) and Ryan Morgan. Zach Neal and Miles Hamblin. W - Neal (12-0). L - Felts. 2B: NCTC - Morgan; HC - Hamblin 2, Monk Kreder, Runey Davis, Will Calhoun. 3B: NCTC - Daniel Sciantarelli. HR: NCTC - Morgan. RBI: NCTC - Morgan, Nick Ochoa, Sciantarelli; HC - Davis 3, Andrew Collazo, Kreder, Hamblin. SB: HC - Calhoun, Collazo 2. LOB: NCTC 3, HC 11.
By JONATHAN HULL
Sports Editor Big Spring Herald