STILLWATER, Okla. (Lamar Athletics) – It wasn’t without some drama, but the Lamar University baseball team turned in a complete team effort and took a series win with a 6-2 victory over the Big 12’s Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon in non-conference action at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
“I am so incredibly proud of my guys,” said head coach Will Davis. “That is a quality team (OSU) that made it to Omaha last season. We competed hard today and got big, clutch plays from all over.”
Oklahoma State (24-21) jumped up 1-0 with a run in the first inning, but by the middle of the sixth the Cardinals (28-21) held a 4-1 lead. Through that span, Ryan Johnson (3-1) worked five innings with just one run given up two hit – all of that in the first inning.
The junior finished with five total innings and just two runs allowed on four hits and three walks. After he got out of the first inning with a strikeout, he gave up just one base runner until the fourth inning. He was pulled in the sixth inning after he allowed a homer and single in back-to-back at-bats.
“Ryan was big today and gave us the kind of start we needed,” said Davis.
Lamar took its lead in the second inning on a two-run single up the middle from Robin Adames. Already with two outs in the frame, Phil Ingram singled up the middle and Reid Russell followed with a double down the left field line to put two men in scoring position for Adames.
In the sixth, the Cardinals jumped up 4-1 on a two-run double from Grant DeVore, again with two outs. Bryndan Arredondo led off the inning with single that hit the Pokes’ pitcher and rolled towards second base, but Arredondo ran out the play and reached safely. After a one-out walk issued to Chad Fleischman and a two-out walk issued to Cole Coker, DeVore lifted a blooper in no man’s land that OSU’s Jon Littell dove for and made contact with in fair territory. The play scored Arredondo from third base and Fleischman from second.
The Cowboys scored their second and final run of the game in the bottom of the frame with a solo home run from Littell. After a hard-hit single to right field, Jace Campbell out in relief and ended the inning with a strikeout and two fly outs, including a beautiful sprinting catch into the left field made by Reid Russell.
LU’s defense prevailed again in the seventh inning when OSU rallied put Campbell in a bases-loaded jam on two walks and a single. Littell grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, with a beautiful spinning turn by LU’s shortstop Ingram. The play ended the inning and kept the score at 4-2.
Campbell fired 3 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits allowed in the contest. He recorded a huge out in the eighth inning after he walked the bases loaded when he forced Andrew Rosa to pop out to shallow left field. Ingram raced out and battled the sun to make a catch as he fell to the ground.
Big Red carried the momentum from the double play in the seventh into the top of the eighth inning and added two more insurance runs. Back-to-back singles from Trey Silvers and Fleischman led off the inning and set up pinch hitter Chaneng Varela for an RBI single that chased home Silvers. Fleischman, who reached third on Varela’s single, scored on an unusual play. With runners on first and third bases, Vincent Dellocono bounced into a double play opportunity, but the turn throw was wide at first base. Dellocono took off for second base and froze four feet before the bag to induce a run down that allowed Fleischman to score.
Fleischman and DeVore led the team with two hits apiece. Fleischman had a team-best two runs scored and DeVore joined Adames for two RBIs each. The Cardinals outhit OSU 11-7 and all but one starter recorded a base knock. Littell and Garrett McCain had four of OSU’s seven knocks.
Ryan Cawthon (1) earned the save with just six pitches thrown and one out. Campbell started the ninth inning and left when the bases were loaded with two outs. Ryan Cawhton came on and Michael Neustifter to fly out to right field.
Oklahoma State stuck with their starter Blake Battenfield (2-4) for 5 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs on four hits and two walks. It turned to Saturday’s starter Joe Leinhard in the sixth, and the Cards scored two runs on him. He tossed 1 2/3 innings. The Pokes finished the game five total pitchers.
With the series win, Lamar improved to 5-3 on the season against programs from Power Five Conferences, and another against perennial power Rice. The Cardinals head back into Southland Conference play in a week when the host Stephen F. Austin in a three-game set, the final at home in the 2017 season. That series is slated to start at 6 p.m. Friday.