PARKVILLE, Mo. – Park University hasn't had much time to think about being knocked off the unbeaten line by Columbia earlier this week, and the Pirates will look to completely put the memory to rest by returning home, Friday and Saturday, for a three-game American Midwest Conference series with Williams Baptist College at Comfort Field.
Friday, the two long-standing AMC rivals will battle twice, beginning at noon, and the series concludes Saturday with a single game, also at noon. The entire series will air on the Pirate Sports Network at www.parkathletics.tv.
Park (12-7, 5-1 AMC) has been a score-first team in 2017, 10-2 when they score the first run of the game, adding only two wins where the Pirates didn't score the first run, beating Dallas Christian in February 12-3 with 12 unanswered runs and coming from behind to beat Lindenwood-Belleville, 7-4, in the middle game of a three-game sweep over the Lynx.
The Pirates' run-scoring success starts with David White, who catches and plays third base, driving in 16 runs, while Cole Doherty is hitting .476 at first base with a team-best 20 hits. Doherty is also the Pirates' closer, saving three games in six appearances on the mound, all in relief.
On the bases, the Pirates create problems for opposing batteries, stealing 26 bases on the year in 33 tries, led by Tim Schaareman and Weston Jacobs, who each have six steals on the year and have combined to go 12-for-13 on the bases.
Park's two trouble innings have been the third and sixth, on the year, outscored by opponents 27-14 in the third inning, but in the sixth, the Pirates have also put up 29 runs on the year, outscoring opponents 29-23.
Justin Eubanks, Derek Watkins and Jackson Longhofer should see the ball in starts during the weekend series, as Eubanks enters with a 1.69 ERA and a 2-0 record, missing a conference start last weekend against Freed-Hardeman. Longhofer filled in as the Pirates' game-one starter against FHU, beating the Lions to improve to 2-1. He's now got a team-best 24 strikeouts, two better than Watkins, who has 22. Watkins beat FHU 2-0, hurling a complete game at the Lions to be named AMC Pitcher of the Week, dropping his ERA to 3.68.
The St. Patrick's Day weekend series starts a six-game homestand for the Pirates, originally scheduled for seven-straight at home, but the Pirates have had to cancel Tuesday's game against MidAmerica Nazarene to accommodate the Pioneers' conference schedule in the Heart.
Next weekend, Park hosts William Woods University in a three-game series at Comfort Field.
WILLIAMS SEEKS MOMENTUM AFTER WIN OVER FHU
Williams Baptist will attempt to add on to its momentum after earning its first conference win of the season on Wednesday, beating a sliding Freed-Hardeman team 10-7 on the road in Henderson, Tennessee.
The Eagles (9-13) are led at the plate by Seth Hart, hitting .403 with five doubles and a pair of home runs, driving in 14, four off the team's RBI lead, held by Cam Smith, who has driven in 18, doubling four times with three triples. The Eagles hit .303 as a team, but like Park, the third inning has been a heel for Williams, outscored 39-15 in the third on the season.
Pitching has also been shaky for the Eagles with a 7.11 team ERA, led by veteran pitcher Dalton Freshour's 19 strikeouts in five starts. Ryan Andrews also has five starts, but the two are only 2-6, combined, while Layne Ditto is 1-2 in four starts, striking out 14.