It was an unbelievable way for Amarillo College to start its inaugural season as a baseball program.
A combined 2,000 fans on Saturday and Sunday were treated to a show at beautiful Hodgetown as the Badger bats blistered Luna Community College winning three out of four in AC’s opening series of 2023. AC run-ruled Luna 21-1 in the opener on Saturday, then suffered its only loss 18-6 in the evening contest. But on Sunday, the Badgers ate up the Riders pitching for a 10-8 win in the early game, followed by a 15-5 run-rule victory later in the afternoon to take the series.
“This was awesome just finally getting to play baseball,” AC baseball coach Brandon Rains said. “We’ve been going at this for 16 months and the guys are tired of seeing each other in practice. What a great crowd we had over the weekend, and to take three out of four was fantastic.”
AC didn’t hesitate getting its “firsts” out of the way in Saturday’s opener. Starting pitcher Cooper Golden recorded the first strikeout in the first inning. Golden was dominant in his debut pitching all five innings racking up eight K’s to earn his first win. At the plate, it took the 2-hole hitter Sydney Ward to collect the Badgers first home run. After leadoff hitter Dayton Farrar reached on an error, Ward hit a monster blast to left center field that gave AC a 2-0 lead it’d never relinquish. However, the Badgers were far from done. With the bases loaded later in the inning, 8-hole hitter and shortstop Jan Avila took a deep shot to opposite field for the programs first ever grand slam.
“It was just like we drew it up,” Rains said. “But all joking aside, we have a lot of talent on this team and when we’re on, we’re on. As long as we do the little things, we’ll have a lot of success for sure.”
On Sunday, the heroics came. Tied 8-8 in the bottom of the sixth inning Ward delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Avila for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. In the final contest, the Badgers exploded for an 8-run first inning that set the tone for a 15-5 victory.
The Badgers have immediately shown they are dangerous at the plate. In this four-game series against Luna CC, AC totaled 52 runs, averaging 13 runs per game with four home runs and 16 extra-base hits.
Ward, a freshman from Albuquerque, N.M. had a huge debut going a combined 6-for-14 with a two home runs and six RBIs. Amarillo High graduate and freshman right fielder Will Franklin had a great start to his college career. Though he did strikeout in his first collegiate at bat for the first recorded out by the AC offense in school history, Franklin was a factor on the rest of the way going 3-for-10 with a pair of doubles and driving in four runs.
“We have some physical hitters,” Rains said. “When they are on those fastballs, they are going to handle business. All we have to do is pitch and play defense. We did a decent job on defense, and we need to pitch it better.”
Rains was also able to celebrate a special milestone earning his 300th career victory as a head baseball coach over the weekend in his 12th season.
“Because of COVID-19 I had to sit on No. 299 for a longtime,” Rains said. “I was in Missouri then I took the job here in Amarillo, so it was almost three years to get this win. But it was just an exciting weekend and worth it.”
The Badgers (3-1) continue their month long homestand taking on Garden City Community College on Saturday and Sunday at Hodgetown.