ABILENE, Texas — Hardin-Simmons split a doubleheader with crosstown rival McMurry, losing 3-1 and winning the second game 9-6, to clinch the right to host the first round of the American Southwest Conference Championship Series next weekend in Abilene.
The Cowboys need a win on Saturday in the noon game with McMurry to not only win the series but also claim the No. 1 seed in the ASC West. HSU would tie Concordia for the title and HSU would have the tiebreaker by winning 2-of-3 over the Tornados in their series in March.
HSU is now 27-11 and 14-6 in ASC West play. McMurry is 15-24 overall and 11-9 in league play. Both teams have clinched playoff berths next weekend and the War Hawks will play at UT-Tyler in the first round ASC Championship series. HSU will host either Louisiana College or Mississippi College.
In the first game, Spencer Smith kept the Cowboys off balance for six and one-third innings and he earned the win to move to 5-1 on the year. Sam Walker took the loss despite allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work. He is now 5-4.
McMurry scored two unearned runs in the second. Jon Finney made a nice attempt at a double play when he snagged a Andrew Bell fielder's choice and stepped on the bag for one out he then threw wide of first to allow Jacob Bermejo to score and Bell then scored on a Jake Mullin double.
HSU scored its only run on an RBI single by Troy Tarrant in the third. McMurry got a Bermejo RBI single for an insurance run in the seventh. HSU loaded the bases in the seventh against Smith and closer Deen Coleman, but Taylor Berlin rocketed a one hopper to the mound that Coleman snared and turned into a pitcher to catcher to first baseman double play to end the game.
Bradd Baker had three hits for McMurry and six different Cowboys had one hit with Tarrant having the RBI.
In the night cap the Cowboys came out swinging. Matt Thompson gave McMurry a 1-0 lead in the second on a solo home run, but the Cowboys scored three times in the bottom of the inning on a Tarrant RBI triple, an Andrew Rehling RBI single and then a throwing error.
HSU made it 5-1 in the third when Brian Weeks had a two-run home run to right. McMurry then chipped away. Jake Mullin hit a solo shot in the fourth and Thompson hit another solo shot in the sixth to chase starter Blake Sieck. Austin Brooks added a sac fly in the sixth to make the score 5-4.
The Cowboys put the game away in their sixth with four runs. Weeks had a two-run single and Berlin added a two-run double. McMurry scored twice in the eighth after two walks by reliever Trevor Stringer came around to score when Brooks singled to center off another reliever James Simmons.
Sieck earned the win to move to 5-1. He allowed four runs in five and one-third innings. Stringer worked two innings allowing two runs and Simmons allowed two hits and no runs in an inning and two-thirds of work.
Zach Matthys was the loser as he allowed five runs in two plus innings of work to fall to 1-3.
Weeks had two hits and drove in four for the Cowboys. Thompson had the two solo home runs to pace McMurry.
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