GEORGETOWN, Texas – Byron Dowdell II broke out with a monster game and the Southwestern University Pirates baseball team defeated the New Jersey City University (NJCU) Gothic Knights 17-7.
Dowdell, a West All-Region outfielder last season, shook off his early season struggles with a 3-for-5 performance, hitting back-to-back home runs to finish with four RBIs and three runs scored.
Buoyed by Dowdell's performance, the Pirates put together their most prolific offensive game of the season, hitting .359 as a team with eight walks drawn and 15 RBIs.
The Pirates continued with their batting order changes from Monday night's game in which Southwestern moved Lance Kruse and Seth Sparks into the No. 2 and 3 spots in the lineup, sparking the offense. The duo combined for five RBIs and three runs scored against NJCU, bringing their two-game total to nine RBIs and six runs scored.
Southwestern went to work early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Hayden Craig and Kruse drew back-to-back walks and Sparks ripped an RBI-double to left center to score Craig, with Kruse scoring and Sparks reaching third on a throwing error from the outfield.
Preston Witt followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, giving Sparks the unearned run.
In the second midweek game in three days, the Southwestern coaching staff game plan was to cycle through young pitchers, giving each a two-inning look. First year Tyler Wilson took the mound to start the game and held NJCU scoreless, allowing one hit and two walks with two strikeouts against eight batters faced to get his first collegiate win.
Landon Durdin replaced Wilson to start the top of the third, putting the first two Knights on with a hit batter and walk. Brandon Rivera laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over to second and third, plating the first run of the game for NJCU on a wild pitch. Durdin recovered with a strikeout and induced groundout with Daniel Montgomery Jr. showcasing his rocket arm on a cross-body throw from third.
Montgomery followed with a RBI-double to right center, scoring Witt; breaking out of his own early slump with two hits, an RBI, and run scored.
After a three-up, three-down inning for the Pirate defense in the top of the fourth, Dowdell opened the bottom of the inning with a towering blast and the Pirates scored two more with RBIs from Craig and Kruse to take a 7-1 lead.
First year J.J. Slack took the mound for the Pirates to start the fifth and surrendered a sacrifice fly RBI from Miguel Marrero before getting out of the inning with his second strikeout.
Dowdell put another one out of the park, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to score Ryan Baranowski for the 9-1 lead.
After a scoreless inning from both teams with Slack striking out three in the sixth, first year Caleb Hollis started the seventh and struggled with his control, walking five and giving up one hit to surrender five earned runs before Ruben Garcia relieved him to get out of the inning.
Southwestern responded quickly, getting its five runs back off four hits and taking advantage of one error. The Pirates went through the entire order in the inning, getting an RBI-single from Dowdell, a three-RBI double from Jacob Tanner, who replaced Thinger at shortstop in the sixth, and an unearned run from Tanner off a throwing error.
The Pirates added three more runs in the eighth, getting a RBI-single from Kruse and a two-RBI single through the right side for Sparks. Garcia closed the game for the Pirates with a three-up, three-down inning, giving up just one hit and one hit batter in 2.2 scoreless innings.
Southwestern was great to start innings, hitting 4-for-8 in leadoff situations, and finishing them, batting 5-for-13 (.385) with two outs and 6-for-17 (.353) with runners in scoring position.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 7-6 on the season. Southwestern will open conference play with a three-game series beginning on Friday, March 13 and ending with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 13.