BEAUMONT, Texas — From Lamar Athletics
Early offense from their opponent proved too much to overcome for Lamar University (6-8, 0-1 SLC) on Friday in its Southland Conference opener against Stephen F. Austin.
The Lumberjacks scored three runs combined in the first two innings and stifled all but one inning of offense for the Cardinal bats with a 4-1 decision favoring SFA. "Watching [Austin Palmer] on video I knew he would be difficult," said head coach Will Davis. "Coming into the game he had one of the best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratios in the conference and he had solid command of four pitches tonight. That's going to be tough for anyone to face. We had some sporadic extra-base hits but when you don't walk at all and you swing the bats like that it's hard to string stuff together."
SFA got things started with a lead-off single to right field and brought the run home on a one-out fly out to right that placed him on third and a wild pitch, leading 1-0 after one inning. Two more runs scored for the Lumberjacks in the second. A one-out walk reached second on a stolen base and was joined on the base paths by a two-out walk. Back-to-back singles scored both Lumberjacks to give SFA a 3-0 lead on four hits, three walks, and a wild pitch.
Lamar was sat down in order the first time through the lineup but started to heat up the second time around. Avery George led off the fourth with a single to preserve his 12-game hit streak and 23-game reached-base streak but a double play struck him down just one batter later, and in the sixth Reese Durand led off with a triple to tie him for the NCAA lead in triples this season. He has three through 13 games - matching Lamar's team season total in 2018. Durand came home on a sac fly from Anthony Quirion to put the score at 3-1 SFA. George collected his second hit of the game in the sixth and reached third on a steal and a wild pitch, but a popup ended the inning.
Lamar's relief pitching did an admirable job of holding SFA in check the rest of the game. Douglas Palmer, Grason Wright, and Dylan Johnson combined for 4.2 innings of work with five hits, one earned run, one walk, and one strikeout. Johnson even bailed himself out of a tricky hit given up in the top of the ninth by picking off the runner on first. SFA scored the fourth run of the day in the eighth inning on a walk and a triple with one out.
LHP Noah Sills (0-1, 3.78 ERA) takes the mound for Lamar on Saturday. He'll face LHP Jason Covington (1-0, 1.00 ERA) at a scheduled start time of 2 p.m.