HAMMOND, La. – A four-run seventh inning, capped by a two-run blast from Reid Russell, gave Lamar University its first lead Sunday and surged the Cardinals to a comeback victory over Southeastern Louisiana, 13-5, at Pat Kenelly Stadium in Southland Conference action.
The Cardinals (11-10, 1-5 Southland) poured on with seven more runs in the eighth inning, four runs on Robin Adames’ grand slam after a pitching change, that finished the LU’s highest scoring inning this season. Three of the four in the seventh inning and all seven of the eighth frame were scored with two outs.
The game was back-and-fourth until the seventh. Southeastern La. (14-5, 5-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning, and Trey Silvers pulled the Cardinals even on a two-run double in the fourth. Cole Coker started the rally with a one-out single up the middle, followed by a walk to Russell. After Adames’ single to load the bags, Silvers uncorked a two-bagger to left center that scored Coker and Russell.
The Lions jumped back ahead 4-2 in the fifth, but only until LU’s seventh. Pinch hitter Payton Robertson and center fielder Grant DeVore drew one-out walks, and both advanced on a passed ball charged to catcher Evan Pace to put Cardinals second and third in the seventh. Cutter McDowell grounded out to the right side and scored Robertson and Coker chased home DeVore on a single to right field.
Tied at 4-4, Russell had two strikes before he unloaded on a pitch and sent it over the left field wall. It was his fifth long ball on the season and all have been with at least one teammate on base.
“We finally got some big hits. It started in the second inning with Trey and the two-run double. In the seventh, it was just a lot of great at-bats,” said head coach Will Davis. “It started with Payton and Grant before it flipped back to the top of our lineup. Cole Coker was clutch all day. Then obviously you had the two big homers from Reid and Robin.”
Back-to-back one-out singles from Bryndan Arredondo and Chad Fleischman opened the eighth inning rally. Arredondo singled to left and Fleischman reached on an infield base knock. After a strikeout before him, DeVore took first when he was plunked by a pitch to load the bags for Cutter McDowell - who was also hit by a pitch.
Coker singled to centerfield and sent home Fleischman and DeVore before Russell was walked for a second time. Southeastern made a change on the hill from Josh Green to Bryce Tassin, and Adames popped his grand slam over the right field wall after he took a strike before it. The long ball was the second of his season and his series at Southeastern.
“Seeing the offense clip like that in the eighth was great. I feel like there are a lot of guys that are close to busting out, but they’ve seen possibly the top two pitching staffs in our conference back-to-back,” said Davis. “Today it was just one great at-bat after another.”
The five hitters at the top of LU’s starting lineup (McDowell, Coker, Russell, Adames and Silvers) recorded all 13 runs batted in for LU, and each had at least two in the contest. Adames had four on a 2-for-5 day, Coker was 3-of-5 for three RBI, Russell (1-of-3) and McDowell (1-for-4) each had two RBI.
Every Cardinals that played reached base, and eight off the nine starters had a base knock in LU’s 11-hit contest. Lamar drew seven free passes in the game, and took advantage of six. The Cardinal pitching staff gave up only four free passes and limited one to touch home plate.
Jimmy Johnson (1-2) earned the win for the Cardinals on the mound. He tossed 4 2/3 relief innings with one run allowed on a hit and walk. The senior struck out three batters and hurled 61 total pitches. Jace Campbell started for LU, but was pulled in the third inning with two runs allowed on three hits and a walk. He also struck out three.
Galen Andrews was the bridge. Andrews tossed two frames with two runs allowed on three hits.
“Going into today we knew we had Jimmy and Galen available on full rest, and we weren’t going to wait to use them. Sometimes coaches wait to use a closer to end the game, but there isn’t a game to close,” said Davis. “We made a conscious decision to use them when we needed to, and fortunately they were able to handle it.
“Jimmy’s innings were big for us today, and we needed them,” he said.
Evan Hileman (3-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings from the bullpen and took the loss. He gave up four runs on four hits. Kade Granier started for the Lions and worked six innings, but was pulled at the start of LU’s comeback seventh inning.
The win ended a brutal stretch that started Lamar’s conference season, in which it was forced to play the top two teams picked in the Southland Conference preseason polls, both on the road. It returns home to face a familiar foe in Northwestern State, but not in league action. That game is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Cardinals return to Southland Conference play Friday at 6 p.m. against Incarnate Word at Vincent-Beck Stadium. That is a three-game set that will finish with a 2 p.m. game Saturday and 1 p.m. finale Sunday.