DALLAS — Newcomer Chance Cotton, a former Van High School standout, picked up his first win as a Patriot, leading UT Tyler to a 3-1 win in the 2013 baseball season opener against NAIA power Rogers State in the Dallas Christian Festival. The win is also the first for new head coach Chris Bertrand.
The Hillcats (4-2), the No. 5 team in NAIA, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the senior transfer from East Texas Baptist would get out of the inning without any more damage.
Over the next four innings, both teams would struggle to get the offense going, but the Patriots (1-0) broke through in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs.
Another ETBU transfer, Cayden Cunniff, blasted a double, knocking in a run, while Isaac Tijerina knocked in another with a single of his own, later scoring on a wild pitch.
The three runs were all the Patriots needed, leaving the last inning to last season’s American Southwest Conference saves leader Derek Miller, who did not disappoint, striking out two batters to shut the door on the Hillcats. Miller is a former Robert E. Lee High School and Tyler Junior College player.
Cotton was fantastic in his Patriots debut, going six innings, giving up four hits, two walks and striking out seven.
Cunniff was 1 for 3 with an RBI and one run scored, while freshman Sam Lane went 1 for 2 with one run scored.
UT Tyler will now take on Tabor College (Kan.) at 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by a showdown with tournament host Dallas Christian at 6:30 p.m.