Feb. 15, 2003
For the second straight day, Air Force and Southern Utah split a non-conference doubleheader, Saturday, Feb. 15, in St. George, Utah. In the first game, the Thunderbirds rallied with six runs in the seventh for a 6-5 win. The Falcons hit three home runs as part of a 10-hit barrage to take the finale, 9-2.
In the opener, Air Force broke open a scoreless game with a single run in the fourth off a sacrifice fly by catcher Daniel Petro and scored three more in the fifth off three hits and two Thunderbird errors. Adam Howes and Derck Kasel had RBIs in the inning. Howes then opened the sixth frame with his second home run of the series to push AFA's lead to 5-0 heading into the seventh.
SUU senior Jake Reynolds led off the T-Bird seventh with a single, but was forced out of the game after colliding with Howes at first base. Junior Tyler Hunter, who pinch-ran for Reynolds, took second on a fielder's choice ground ball by Aaron Lancaster, who reached on a fielding error by AFA shortstop Nelson Prouty. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and following a Jona Droubay walk and a Tom Ford strikeout, SUU broke through with a bases-loaded walk to Chris Mower and back-to-back two-run doubles by pinch-hitter Brent Francom and infielder Ty Doezie to pull even at 5-5. With the bases loaded and one out, Hunter, the 10th batter of the inning, was hit by the pitch from Jason Pruitt to drive in the game-winning run.
The Falcons out-hit the T-Birds, 8-5, including three hits by Howes with two RBI. Falcon starter Ken Hodgson went six-plus innings. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. He gave up three runs on one hit and a walk in the sixth. Falcon reliever Scott Zicarelli (0-1) was saddled with the loss. He gave up the game-winning run on one hit and one walk.
In the series finale, SUU jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead thanks to a lead-off triple by Ryan Duvall and a sacrifice fly by Francom. AFA answered with a two-run homer by Nathan Derohan in the second and a solo homer by Zach McAngus in the third. Air Force added three unearned runs on two Thunderbird errors in the fourth to vault to a 6-1 lead. Doezie would then double home a run in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-2, but AFA put the game out of reach in the sixth with three more runs, highlighted by a two-run homer by outfielder Josh Phifer.
Phifer, Derohan and catcher Joe Peterson each registered two hits to lead AFA, while SUU was held to five hits for the game. Falcon hurler Josh Zumbrun (1-0) scattered two runs on five hits in a seven-inning complete game effort to get the win. T-Bird starter James Hanley (0-1) allowed three runs on five hits in two innings to take the loss.
Howes, a senior first-baseman and lead-off hitter from Phoenix, Ariz., led the Falcons with a .385 average in the series. He was 5-for-13 with four runs scored, two home runs, three RBI and three stolen bases. Bowie Frost hit .308 and Zach McAngus hit .286 for the Falcons. As a team, the Falcons hit just .284, but fielded a sizzling .973 with a team ERA a miniscule 3.08.
Air Force, 6-4 overall this season, travels to Millington, Tenn., for the 14th annual Service Academies Spring Classic, Feb. 21-23. The Falcons face Navy, Memphis and Kansas State in the three-day tournament.