Heading into his team’s three-game series against Lubbock Christian, UTPB baseball coach Brian Reinke knew securing a win was of high importance.
The Falcons came into the matchup in 10th place in the Lone Star Conference, two spots away from qualifying for the conference tournament at the end of the regular season.
UTPB took a step in the right direction when Devin Ferrari hit a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 victory against Lubbock Christian Friday at Roden Field.
Ferrari was 3 for 5 with the home run, two doubles, three runs scored and two RBIS to pace the Falcons. Tyler Stone, in relief, earned the victory, striking out four in 3.1 innings of work.
Garret Thornton, Nick Hernandez and Joe Allen IV each drove in two runs for UTPB (12-18 overall, 9-16 in conference).
“I hope this gives them some confidence,” Reinke said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in the conference right now.
“Every single game is important because once you get yourself entered into the tournament, then you don’t know what’s going to happen. Teams get in and start a run that’s just incredible, you just never know where it goes from there.”
Lubbock Christian got off to a strong start with Luis Navarro hitting a home run to start a two-out rally for the Chaps, with Colin Gordon and Larry Leitha also scoring to put the Falcons into a quick hole.
UTPB had trouble getting anything going in the bottom of the inning, as Lubbock Christian pitcher Armando Valle struck out the first three batters in the Falcon lineup.
The Falcons held up defensively in the top of the second, keeping Lubbock Christian (14-18, 12-16) off the scoreboard.
Ferrari provided a spark for UTPB in the second inning with a double to left field. He wasn’t there long as Allen IV followed with a single to put the Falcons on the scoreboard.
Even with the quick shift in momentum, Lubbock Christian came back to extend its lead to 4-1 after Navarro reached home plate in the top of the fourth.
A Thornton RBI single in the bottom of the inning narrowed the gap for UTPB, but Lubbock Christian’s Grant Griffin scored in the top of the fifth to give his team a 5-2 advantage.
That’s when momentum swung in favor of the Falcons in the bottom of the inning.
Jay Desoto got UTPB going with a one-out single, moving to third on Thornton’s double.
Desoto scored on Hernandez’s sacrifice fly, with Thornton advancing to third before scoring on Ferrari’s second double of the game.
Allen IV added his second run-scoring single of the game to plate Ferrari and the Falcons had clawed their way even, 5-5.
UTPB took its first lead of the game courtesy of a trio of walks, the final one to Thornton that moved Hayden Matthewson across the plate with the go-ahead run. Pemron Burrows that scored on Hernandez’s sacrifice fly for the 7-5 lead.
Lubbock Christian quickly tied the game up with two runs in the top of the seventh.
Neither team threatened to score the rest of the way until Ferrari showed up when his team needed him.
“I just got the pitch I was looking for,” Ferrari said of his walk-off homer. “I was just seeing the ball well today, just doing what I could.”
Reinke said his team played well throughout the contest, despite some defensive miscues.
“We didn’t quit and that’s part of learning how to adapt and be a college baseball player,” he said.
UTPB will continue its homestand at 2 p.m. Saturday against Lubbock Christian.
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UTPB 8, Lubbock Christian 7
LCU……………. 301 100 200 — 7 10 1
UTPB………….. 011 032 001 — 8 11 3
Armando Valle, Peyton Huston (6), Cade Acrey (6) and Luis Navarro. Jake Rohde, Trey Penny (6), Tyler Stone (6) and Cole Dickie. W — Stone. L — Acrey. 2B — Lubbock Christian: Larry Leitha, George Mendazona, Grant Griffin, Nolan Machibroda. UTPB: Garret Thornton, Devin Ferrari 2. HR — Lubbock Christian: Navarro. UTPB: Ferrari.
Records — Lubbock Christian 14-18 Overall, 12-16 Lone Star Conference; UTPB 12-18, 9-16.