EDINBURG -- The University of Texas-Pan American baseball team split their Great West Conference doubleheader with the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday night at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. The Broncs won the first game 10-1 in seven innings and the Highlanders took the nightcap 11-5.
The win in the early game had extended the UTPA win streak to seven games before coming to a close with the game two defeat. After Saturday the Broncs are now 16-11 on the season and 6-1 in the Great West Conference. The Highlanders are now 7-21 and 1-6 in the GWC.
In the first game the Broncs took an early two run lead thanks to the bat of Roger Bernal. After Alex Carnall drew a leadoff walk, Bernall blasted the DJ Roche offering into the left-field bullpen for his second homer of the season to give the Broncs the 2-0 advantage.
The Highlanders scored an un-earned run in the top half of the third after a Bronc throwing error to pull within one. The run turned out to be the only one of the game for NJIT.
A pair of errors by the Highlanders plated two more runs for the Broncs in the bottom of the third giving UTPA a 4-1 lead.
The Broncs continued to put on the pressure in the late stages of the seven inning opener. Vincent Mejia hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Carnall in the fifth to increase the UTPA lead to 5-1. The next batter was Mike McCarthy, who extended his hit streak to seven games with a 2 RBI double to the gap in right-center extending UTPA's lead to 7-1. UTPA added three more runs in the sixth to put the opener out of reach at 10-1.
Luis Flores (W, 1-2) picked up the complete game victory, his first of the season, for the Broncs. Flores pitched seven solid innings, scattering six hits, and allowing one unearned run while walking three and striking out three.
Roche (L, 0-2) pitched five innings and allowed seven runs, five earned, with four walks and four strikeouts in the losing effort for NJIT.
In game two the Broncs again started with a first inning explosion. The Broncs scored a pair of two-out runs in the first to take the early advantage. Angel Ibanez began the rally with a two-out single to left-center. After a Vinnie Mejia walk, Mike McCarthy continued his torrid hitting pace with an RBI single to right field, extending his hit-streak to eight games, to give the Broncs the 1-0 advantage. Stuart MacInnes then drove in Mejia with a single to centerfield giving the Broncs a 2-0 lead.
Things started to break down on the mound for UTPA in the second. The Highlanders brought 12 men to the plate and scored seven runs on four hits to take the 7-2 advantage. After the Highlanders scored the first run on a throwing error by Cody Plunk, NJIT's Teddy Bickert gave the Highlanders the lead with a two-run double down the left field line to make the score 3-2 NJIT. Four runs and two Bronc pitching changes later the Highlanders had given themselves a comfortable lead.
The Broncs would score single runs in the third, eighth and ninth innings but could not build a rally against NJIT. The best chance for the Broncs was in the bottom of the fifth when the Broncs middle of the order of Mejia, MacInnes, and McCarthy all singled to begin the frame. The Broncs would not score despite having the bases loaded and nobody out as the NJIT starter Mark Leiter carved his way out of a seemingly insurmountable jam.
The Highlanders scored three runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach for UTPA.
Leiter (W, 2-1) pitched like a workhorse for NJIT by throwing seven innings, with 131 pitches thrown, allowing three earned runs and striking out 10 Broncs to pick up the victory. Plunk (L, 1-3) faces just 12 batters, lasting only an inning-plus, allowing six runs, five earned, with four walks and one strikeout in the losing effort.
The Broncs will now turn their attention to a long-time non-conference foe in the University of Texas. The Broncs face the Longhorns at Disch-Falk Field in Austin on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. Following their mid-week game with the Longhorns the Broncs will travel to face Northern Colorado next weekend in Great West Conference play.