Punctuating the game with the big inning they’d been looking for, the Highlands baseball team defeated Metro State 7-2 Sunday and ended up with a split of the four-game weekend series at Brandt Park.
The Cowboys and head coach Steve Jones improved to 14-7 overall and 10-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Josh McMahon, Highlands’ third baseman, drove in four runs and went 4 for 5 at the plate in one of the better individual efforts of the season to date.
As a team, NMHU combined for four sacrifice bunts and two sacrifice flies, getting resourceful to move baserunners around the diamond.
McMahon tied the game at 2-2 by ripping a base hit up the middle to score Jarod Jamerson in the bottom of the third inning. He then connected to deliver the go-ahead run two innings later, slicing a shot down the line in right field to bring home Thomas Lyons.
McMahon notched two runs batted in at the tail end of a four-run eighth inning outburst for the Cowboys. NMHU loaded the bases on Metro relief pitcher Tanner Roth, and when Ruidoso native Cole Davis got struck by a pitch, pinch runner Jonathan Stavinoha scored.
The play also advanced Chris Pile to third base, and Jordan Falcon’s sacrifice fly plated Pile for a 6-2 lead. McMahon drove in two runs by singling to left and bringing in Pile and Davis.
Metro (7-12, 3-7) had taken the first lead of the game with two runs in the top of the first.
Erik Cammall scored off a fielder’s choice and an error. Then a groundout by Darryl Baca enabled Mitch Gibbons to trot home to put the Roadrunners up 2-0.
Jordan Goliat got the Cowboys on the board with a sacrifice fly to score Lyons in the third inning. Then McMahon picked up his first RBI of four on the day.
It was a strong day for NMHU pitcher Chris Prokupek, who went the full nine innings and allowed just five hits and one earned run, striking out two. Prokupek is now 3-1.
Pitcher Nick Hammett fared well for Metro most of the way but got yanked after walking Kyle Herrington on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Relievers Alex Hill and Tanner Roth combined for two outs but also allowed the Cowboys to load the bases for the runs that put the game out of reach. Hammett (1-2) was tagged with the loss.
Following a non-league detour to Eastern New Mexico on Tuesday, the Cowboys resume RMAC play with a weekend trip to take on archrival Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction, Colo.
Cowgirls drop two in Silver City
NMHU softball lost twice on Sunday at Western New Mexico, falling 4-1 and 13-4.
The Cowgirls are 10-8-1 overall and 3-12-1 in the league.
Erica Wieck and Paige Medina had two hits each in the first game, and Wieck accounted for the lone Cowgirl score, doubling to plate Estancia native Aylissa Lujan.
Jessica Brink (eight hits and two earned runs allowed in six frames) went the distance for NMHU on the mound.
Game two was knotted up at 4-4 midway through the fifth but the Mustangs teed off for nine runs in the bottom of the fifth to put the game away.
Albuquerque’s Dominique Padilla and Tess Oliphant recorded two RBI apiece, and Wieck went 2 for 3.
WNMU is 11-14 and 8-6.
Highlands and coach Shellie Broyles will visit Colorado-Colorado Springs this Saturday and Sunday.