Early lifts Baseball past Texas-Tyler in NCAA West Regional

TYLER, Texas — Brett Early fired eight shutout innings and Nick Byrd pitched a scoreless ninth as the University of La Verne baseball (25-18) team blanked Texas-Tyler (34-11), 2-0, on Wednesday at Irwin Field in the opening round of the NCAA Division III West Regional.

With the win, La Verne moves on to face the loser of the matchup between Millsaps and Whitworth at 1:15 PT tomorrow.

The offense did just enough. The Leopards got on the board in the bottom of the second after Mark Jebbia and Jared Hovespian came up with a double and a single, respectively, in consecutive at bats. La Verne then took advantage of a two-out error in the sixth to push across its second run as Texas-Tyler third baseman Logan Tyler misplayed a grounder by Jebbia, which allowed Ben White to cross the plate.

And that was all Early (9-2) needed. The junior was masterful on the hill, striking out four and scattering 10 hits over eight innings while issuing just one base on balls. Texas-Tyler managed to get at least a base hit in every inning but two, but Early executed his pitches each time he allowed a runner on base and the defense backed him up to get him out of the jams.

The Patriots got to Early for a pair of singles and a double in his final one-plus inning and that's when the Leopards tapped freshman Byrd to shut the door. Byrd came on after a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Patriots in order to earn his seventh save of the season.

Texas-Tyler starter Michael Blevins (2-2) nearly matched Early pitch-for-pitch, going 7.1 innings with one earned run allowed, but took the loss for the Patriots.

Andrew Douglas and White each had two hits to lead the Leopards.

Reed Coover, Sam Lane, Garrett Nelson and Kevan House each had two hits for Texas-Tyler.

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