LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN (33-13, 31-13, LSC) vs.
UT TYLER (26-18, 26-18 LSC)
Friday, April 29 – 7 p.m.
Irwin Field – Tyler, Texas
It seems like not too long ago Lubbock Christian opened the 2022 season with a four-game series against Arkansas-Fort Smith, but the end of the regular season is already here. The Chaps will hit the road for their final four games heading into the playoffs, taking on UT Tyler for a series at Irwin Field. The final series of the weekend still has implications for the Lone Star Conference standings and championships, which begin next weekend. LCU is already guaranteed a spot in the postseason tournament, but is trying to hold off Texas A&M-Kingsville, which is right behind them in the standings. Chap’s magic number with the Javelinas is two, which means they need a combination of two LCU wins or TAMUK losses.
THE NEW CHAPARRAL
- Lubbock Christian had nine full pitching games, which is the most in the LSC
- LCU’s slugging percentage of .566 is also the sixth-best rating in all of NCAA Division II.
- The Patriots are tied for the best team ERA in LSC at 4.49 and the opponents beat .262 against them
- This will be Lubbock Christian’s first-ever trip to UT Tyler
- UTT is currently fifth in the league standings with an LSC record of 26-18 (.591)
- Edward Acosta ranks No. 6 nationally in runs scored with 64
- The Chaps are in line to host a first-round series in the conference tournament next week at Hays Field
- LCU threw a pair of shutouts last week, keeping the Falcons at a .219 batting average
Chaparral’s pitching squad had one of their best weekends of the season last week as they took on UT Permian Basin in four games. Eight LCU pitchers combined for a 3.21 ERA, two shutouts, 27 strikeouts and an opponent’s .219 batting average in 28.0 innings of work. Ethan Coombes, Ty Stephenson, Shandon Herrera and Armando Valle were the starters used, with Coombes throwing a complete shutout (on one hit) and Stephenson and the reliever Cade Acrey combine for each other. The strong showing lowered the staff’s ERA to 5.81, which ranks them seventh in the conference. LCU starting pitchers were slightly better than the overall rating, with a 5.49 ERA in 227.2 innings of work.
WITH GREAT POWER…
LCU had 15 doubles, four triples and three homers against the Falcons, bringing their already league-leading percentage to .580. This mark also ranks well enough for sixth place in all of NCAA Division II. The Chaps also rank 16and in doubles with 103 and sixth in triples with 21. Their 68 home runs lead LSC by a wide margin and they are the 15and most among the D-II programs. Center Field Chap Larry Leita is first on the team and ranks fifth in the conference with a .716 hitting percentage. He has 16 doubles, a triple and 13 homers. Luis NavarreAcosta and George Mendazona all also have their slugging percentage above the 0.600 mark.
RECOGNIZED AT REGIONAL LEVEL
The first NCAA regional rankings for the 2022 season were released last Wednesday, giving us our first look at what the playoffs could look like for the Chaps at the end of the regular season. LCU was fourth in that initial poll, behind No. 1 seed Colorado Mesa and fellow LSC members Angelo State and West Texas A&M at No. 2 and 3, respectively. Eight teams have been revealed in the standings and six will advance to the NCAA South Central Regional after the conference tournament. Lubbock Christian has reached the NCAA playoffs three times in school history, including their last trip in 2019. Regional is split into baseball, meaning the top seed will host all fours and all fives. and the top two seeds will host the threes and sixes.
Last weekend, Lubbock Christian had three more double plays, taking his season total to 38. It’s the second-most in the Lone Star Conference (behind St. Mary’s) and ranks 10and among NCAA Division II schools. Earlier this season, they shot five in a game against West Texas A&M, which tied the program record. LCU pitchers rely a lot more on the ball on the ground, getting 388 groundouts to just 280 flyouts. Caden Hensley (2B) and Carson Ogilvie (SS) make up the center infield, and George Mendazona started all but one game at third base.
LCU have a stable of good receivers at their disposal this season, Navarro, Jarred Gibson and Jaxson Edwards behind the plate. The trio combined to catch 18 runners stealing, which is tied for second most in the conference. Additionally, the Chaps allowed their opponents to steal bases with a pass rate of just .700, which is the second-best mark in the conference. Gibson and Edwards each caught six runners stealing, and Navarro is right behind with five. The eldest from Panama has caught 38 riders stealing in his three seasons with the team.
TAKE THIS WAY
In Game 3 of the series against UT Permian Basin, Lubbock batter Christian walked 16 in seven innings. The total was their most in a single game since Feb. 20, 2011, when they walked 16 times in an 18-15 win over Lindenwood. Overall, the Chaps have walked 218 times this season, which is fourth in the LSC and ranks 24th nationally. Mendazona leads the team in the marches with 27, closely followed by Navarro and Caden Hensley, which have 26 each. Three other LCU players have at least 20 base balls.
STRIATED AND MULTIS
Navarro has reclaimed his place at the top of Chaparral’s team in multiple hit games and now has 21 this season. Mendazona and Acosta are close behind with 20 each. Navarro also leads the team in multi-RBI games with 14. Mendazona has the longest active base streak achieved on the team with an impressive 22 games. He ties Gibson for the longest base streak hit by a Chap hitter this season. Acosta has an active 12-game hitting streak for the longest on the team.
ON THE ROAD ONCE AGAIN
The Chaps have played in five road series, going 13-7 in those 20 games. LCU’s batters are averaging .291 on the road, led by Leitha’s .357. There were 37 doubles, six triples and 21 home runs in opposing stadiums. The pitching staff is slightly better on the road, with a 5.28 ERA and .251 batting average. Shandon Herrera 3.41 road ERA directs staff. Irwin Field is the home of UT Tyler baseball, with a natural grass playing surface and seating for 1,000 fans.
2000 AND COUNT
Since the inception of the LCU baseball program in 1971, the Chaparrals have been one of the top teams in baseball at whatever level they played. Lubbock Christian played 3,277 games over those years, posting an overall program record of 2,200 wins and 1,082 losses during that time. For the past 18 seasons he has served as head coach Nathan Blackwood leading the program, and he has a 721-323 record at that time.
SCOUT THE PATRIOTS
- UT Tyler hits just below the .300 mark as a team at .299, giving them the fifth-best hitting team in the conference
- The Patriots split their streak last weekend against St. Mary’s, winning the first two games before losing the last two. Both losses were just two points
- UTT has just 23 homes run on the year, which is the third-fewest in LSC, ahead of only St. Mary’s and Eastern New Mexico.
- The Patriots are in their first season of playoff eligibility at the D-II level after transitioning over the past two seasons
- UT Tyler’s three starting pitchers slated for the weekend held opponents to batting averages below .300
THE SERIES WITH THE PATRIOTS
The rivalry between Lubbock Christian and UT Tyler is new, with only seven meetings between the two since the latter joined the ranks of NCAA Division II in 2020. The Patriots have a 5-2 lead, with LCU winning one match on each. of the series played between the teams. Chap’s win in 2021 was significant as LCU trailed 8-0 early and scored 12 unanswered points to come back all the way.