SPORTS: Grand slam puts Dustdevils over Patriots
By Cesar Oldham
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Wednesday, May 3, 2023
With a resounding grand slam to left-center field in the bottom of the seventh inning, TAMIU’s baseball team put the pressure on UT-Tyler during the March 5 high-scoring game. The Sunday afternoon Lone Star Conference outing at Jorge Haynes Field ended up in a 14-12 win for the Dustdevils.
Texas A&M International University junior catcher Joseph “JoJo” Cruz’s more than 380-foot-deep home-run led to the grand slam, which added enough points to the scoreboard to prevent a UT-Tyler comeback.
“It was a big inning for us,” coach Philip Middleton recalled, “and a lot of times when you get a big hit you don’t know when it’s going to happen and so you have to stay patient and JoJo’s grand slam there was huge for us and put the momentum on our side.”
TAMIU dominated the game right off the bat with 6-0 in the first inning. The Patriots (then 13-7, 13-7 LSC) surged offensively in the top of the sixth inning and scored six runs that came due to two singles, a double, and a home run hit off Dustdevils pitching.
The Dustdevils (then 7-15, 6-14 LSC) got their offense going in the bottom of the second and scored two runs. Senior outfielder Brock Hargens hit a double that brought in a run and junior infielder Ariben Gutierrez laid down a sacrifice bunt that helped score another run.
TAMIU then cut the deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it a 6-4 ball game. TAMIU senior catcher Beto Cervantes then added a two-run home run to bring the runners home.
University of Texas at Tyler quickly responded with runs and added three more in the top of the fourth; however, the Dustdevils didn’t let the Patriots run away with the game after they scored two runs to make it a 9-6 game-cutting the UT-Tyler lead to three runs. TAMIU senior outfielder Matt Kissamis then singled in two more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The Dustdevils and Patriots were both scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, but TAMIU recovered in the bottom of the seventh, scoring seven runs to take a 13-9 lead heading into the eighth inning.
TAMIU graduate student and infielder Daniel Hernandez brought in a run with a single, then Cruz’s grand slam put the Dustdevils on top, Kissamis then launched a solo home run to stun the Patriots’ pitching with back-to-back home runs. Senior infielder Mario Chaco also hit an RBI single.
“That’s momentum when you get one and then two back-to-back like that and get momentum on your side you just try and hold onto it,” Middleton said.