BEAUMONT, Texas (Lamar Athletics) – Two seniors showed their fortitude on the mound on Senior Day, and a patient offense responded when the Lamar University baseball team claimed a much-needed sweep over Stephen F. Austin with a 9-4 win Sunday afternoon in the home finale at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Southland Conference action.
The win pushed the Cardinals’ (32-21, 15-12 Southland) win streak to six games, the season’s longest, and has them now in a tie for fifth place with Central Arkansas. Stephen F. Austin (26-26, 14-13) fell to seventh place in a tie with Nicholls, and New Orleans is in ninth place – two games behind Lamar with three to play.
Lamar also finished its season at Vincent-Beck with a 23-6 record, most wins at home since it won 27 in 2014.
“This sweep meant everything. We had an opportunity to do something special, and our guys responded,” said head coach Will Davis. “Our team is so resilient, and it was a total team effort all weekend.
“You want to be playing your best baseball at the end of the year, and I feel like that’s what we are doing,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited to continue this journey with these guys.”
Jimmy Johnson (6-4) got out to a rocky start, but leaned on his defense and finished out strong for 7 2/3 innings of work – his second-longest outing of the season – with four runs allowed (three earned) on nine hits and one walk. The three earned runs and four of the hits were in the second inning when SFA jumped up 3-0, but by the time he came back for the third he had a 5-3 lead.
He faced the minimum in the third – due in large part to Bryndan Arredondo’s laser to cut down Zac Michener trying to steal second base. Gave up a single in the fourth but stranded him. A leadoff walk and error hurt in the fifth, but returned to set them down in order in the sixth. The Palestine native was perfect in the seventh and ended his day with back-to-back flyouts to start the eighth before Brett Brown was called on.
Brown closed out the game, and his lone base runner was one he hit with a pitch. The Nederland native went 1 1/3 with one strikeout.
“It was great to see Jimmy Johnson and Brett Brown do what they did on Senior Day,” said Davis. “They really stepped up and did a job for us.”
The offense was extremely patient at the plate Sunday and drew 12 walks – and added a hit by pitch to the mix – and recorded 11 base knocks, all singles.
Down 3-0 in the bottom of the second, it was free passes that jumpstarted the Cardinals. In that frame alone, they drew six walks and Phil Ingram was plunked by a pitch. Chad Fleischman led it off with a walk, and after an out Trey Silvers and Chaneng Varela drew back-to-back walks to load the bags. Ingram was hit to make it 3-1 and Vincent Dellocono drew another walk to make it 3-2.
Grant DeVore delivered the big blow of the inning with a two-run single that scored Silvers and Ingram to make it 4-3. After a walk to Russell, Robin Adames drew a walk that sent home Dellocono.
The Cardinals made it 7-3 in the fifth. After reaching on a leadoff walk, Dellocono scored on a bases-loaded double play ball and Chad Fleischman drove in DeVore – who reached on a single – with a single to shallow right center. LU’s final runs were in the seventh on four-straight singles to start an inning. Ingram singled to right and Dellocono did the same through the right side. DeVore drove in Ingram from third base with a single to left and Russell drove in Dellocono with a single up the middle.
DeVore led the way for Lamar with three hits and three RBIs in four at-bats on the day. Between DeVore and Ingram, the leadoff spot of the order for LU was 8-for-12 with four RBI, six runs and two walks this weekend. DeVore also extended his multi-hit streak to seven games.
Russell recorded two hits in four trips with a RBI and Dellocono was 1-for-2 with three runs scored and one RBI. Dellocono joined Silvers with two walks apiece. Every Cardinal in the starting order drew a walk, and all but one had a base hit.
“Everybody in our lineup stepped up. I can’t even start naming names because it has been everyone,” said Davis. “We drew 26 walks on the weekend, and we had some very unselfish guys up there. That is what led to the sweep.”
SFA worked through seven pitchers Sunday, and its starter Erik Nouis (2-4) lasted only 1 1/3 innings with five runs allowed on no hits and five walks. Will Vest pitched 2 2/3 innings with five hits and two runs allowed.
Josh Evans, Stephen Stuart and Andrew Cole, the fifth-seventh batters of the order, combined for six of SFA nine hits.
There is only one series left in the regular season for the Cardinals, at rival McNeese – which is fighting for a league title next weekend. That three-game series is slated to start at 6 p.m. Thursday night.
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