KINGSVILLE, Texas — Freshman Evan Orsak pitched 4 1/3 strong innings in relief and sophomore Keith Balderaz earned a school-record ninth save as Eastern New Mexico University outlasted Texas A&M-Kingsville 8-7 in 12 innings on Saturday in the first game of a Lone Star Conference South Division doubleheader.
The Javelinas came back to take the nightcap 3-2, capturing three of the four games in the season-ending series.
Orsak (1-1) allowed two hits and no runs after taking over for starter Evan Courteau to begin the eighth. He left after giving up a single to Javier Molina and a sacrifice bunt by Jorge Pena to start the 12th.
Balderaz, who couldn’t close out Friday’s opener in his first save opportunity since tying Steve Montoya’s 1996 school mark in just the team’s 20th game on March 4, then struck out Will Alexander swinging and retired leadoff man Dustin Brooks on a grounder to short to end the 4-hour, 5-minute marathon.
The Greyhounds (24-32, 6-14 South) took the lead in the top of the 12th on doubles by Mike McDuffie and Brian Green off Kingsville’s Zach Gordon (3-3), who pitched the final 4 1/3 innings. They were ENMU’s only extra base hits in the contest.
The teams combined for 34 hits and stranded 29 baserunners — 17 by Eastern. Six pitchers — three for each team — threw a total of 415 pitches, including 244 by the Javs.
The Hounds took a 6-3 lead with a five-run fifth after the first two hitters were retired, the rally capped by Gilbert Alvarado’s two-run single. Kingsville responded with a four-run fifth to regain the lead, keyed by back-to-back homers from Andrew Sweet and Matt Emerson.
Shortstop Steven Lopez-Barela, who went 4-for-6 in the game, then tied it for ENMU with a two-out RBI single in the sixth and the teams settled in for a while.
Designated hitter Tyler Brown went 4-for-5 for the Hounds, while Green finished 3-for-7.
It was the seventh game of 12 or more innings in school history, and only the second that the Hounds have won. The other came in 1993, a 7-6 triumph over Lubbock Christian in 12.
Kingsville (35-19, 9-11) held on in a more routine seven-inning nightcap, played in just over two hours. The Hounds threatened in the seventh when Seth Clabaugh walked and Derrick Kennedy singled with one out, but Chris Nabors got Justin Gee and Mike McDuffie on strikes to earn his first save of the season.
Emerson (2-3) went five innings, allowing four hits, and also hit a two-out, two-run single in the third for a 3-0 lead. ENMU pulled to 3-2 in the fifth on an RBI double by Ryan French and a run-scoring single by Kennedy.
Senior right-hander Kelly Crain (5-7) pitched a complete-game six-hitter for the Hounds, striking out four.