WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- The 3 1/2 hour wait yesterday for the Wildcats turned out to be well worth it as they played one of their best games of the season in a 10-2 win over St. Mary's.
As usual, the Wildcats fell behind as Jonathan Cisneros solo home run in the third inning. It was the eighth straight post-season game in which the Wildcats' opponents have led. ACU, however, is 6-2 in those games with five straight wins in that circumstance.
A six-run third inning gave the Wildcats a 6-1 lead, and the outstanding starting pitcher effort of Cameron Aspaas was enough for the Wildcats. Aspaas struck out seven Rattlers and didn't allow a walk as he needed just 106 pitches to get through 6 2/3 innings. Ryan McCabe, Josh Crockett and Brad Rutherford closed out, using just 20 pitches them to get through the final 2 1/3 innings.
Tonight the Wildcats will take on Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. in a winner's bracket game. The No. 4 seed Cardinals pulled a minor upset with a 6-1 win late Thursday night over No. 3 seed Emporia State. UIW pitcher Kirk Jewasko improved to 12-2 on the season as he struck out 13 Hornets in seven innings, and closer Alfredo Caballero finished up the final two innings, giving up just one hit while striking out five more ESU hitters.
The Wildcats and Cardinals didn't play this year, but ACU holds a 27-13 all-time lead in the series. The last time they played was the opening game of the 2009 season with the Wildcats taking a 5-2 win. The Wildcats and Cardinals have met once before in the post-season and that was an 8-5 ACU win in the first round of the 2006 regional tournament.
The two teams will open the season against each other in 2011 as Incarnate Word joins the Lone Star Conference, effective July 1.
For more on ACU's trip to wet and soggy Warrensburg, Mo., read Ron Hadfield's take on the ACU Today blog.