The Houston Baptist Huskies baseball team capped off a strong season-ending run with a Great West Conference tournament championship on Saturday.
The Huskies (35-24-1) sealed the title with a 13-3 win over the Northern Colorado Bears in the championship game on Saturday afternoon at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. In the process, they captured their first NCAA Division I conference baseball title after finishing as a runner-up the last two seasons.
The Saturday win capped an undefeated week at the tourney – following wins over NJIT, UT-Pan American and North Dakota earlier in the week – and gave HBU 13 wins in its last 14 games.
“The guys came together at the right time, winning 13 of our last 14 games,” head coach Jared Moon was quoted as saying after the championship game. “We finally had the approach of expecting to win, and we put together our best four-game stretch of the entire season.”
In the title game, Houston Baptist jumped on Northern Colorado for seven first-inning runs.
The first six Huskies reached safely, as Luke Clements drew a leadoff walk. HBU then got five consecutive singles from Curtis Jones, Jordan McCoy, Jake Gonzalez, Bradley Brown and Samm Wiggins.
Wiggins’ hit brought home two runs to give HBU a 4-0 lead before the Bears recorded an out. Josh Martinez and Josh Foust followed with RBI groundouts before Clements drove an RBI triple off the wall in center to cap the scoring.
Foust drilled a two-run home run in the third, C.J. Jarvis delivered a two-run double in the seventh and Brown added a two-run homer in the eighth to round out the scoring.
Freshman lefthander Matthew McCollough (2-2) was the winning pitcher. McCollough allowed three runs on seven hits, struck out four and walked two in six innings.
Freshman righthander Matt Harding followed with two innings of scoreless relief and junior righthander Kobie Hajdik retired the side in order in the ninth.
Moon beamed about his team’s effort afterward.
“Being in the championship game the last two years, the guys were focused and determined not to go out in the same fashion,” the head coach stated. “Our goal all year was to win the final game of the Great West Conference, so I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Clements, a senior from Seven Lakes High School, was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Tyler Hoelscher (pitcher, sophomore), Jarvis (shortstop, junior), Jones (third base, sophomore) and Gonzalez (center field, senior).
“I can’t begin to explain how much I love my teammates,” Clements said. “It’s been a long and crazy ride here at HBU, but I wouldn’t trade the memories I made with my teammates and coaches for anything in the world.”
The Huskies finished the year with a season-best seven-game winning streak and won the final Great West Conference title before the league dissolves.
HBU begins play in the Southland Conference next season.