BEAUMONT, Texas — aking advantage of 10 strikeouts by Trevin Michael and nine hits, Lamar University won big in its 2020 season opener, taking down the University of Rhode Island by a score of 7-3 on Friday. Two errors by the Rams also played a factor in the Big Red victory.
“Trevin was an absolute stud tonight so that was great to see,” said head coach Will Davis. “He worked through tough conditions, facing six left-handed hitters, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out 10. I wouldn’t say that we necessarily thought that’s what he would be when we recruited him, but he’s blossomed into that over the course of the fall and spring. He’s an ultimate competitor, and that’s why we put him out there tonight.”
Michael had a perfect game through four and a third innings, and on a normal day in Vincent-Beck Stadium might have been untouched all day. The only two hits he surrendered were both solo home runs that carried in an unusually strong wind just over the right field wall. The first home run came on his 49th pitch of the game on an 0-1 count, and the second briefly gave Rhode Island a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh. Michael finished the night after collecting 10 strikeouts in seven innings, walking none and allowing just two hits and two earned runs. The last time a Cardinal pitcher had at least 10 strikeouts in a single game was when Carson Lance struck out 11 Islanders against A&M-Corpus Christi on April 13, 2017.
While Michael held down the Rhode Island offense, it took a bit for Lamar’s bats to warm up against an impressive Justin Cherry on the mound. Cherry and Michael combined for no walks, two hits, and 11 strikeouts through the first three and a half innings before LU was finally able to break up the shutout in the bottom of the fourth. With one out JC Correa hit a slow roller to third and ran out the throw to first, collecting the first of his three hits on the night. He advanced to third on a single by Chase Kemp to right field, and came home on a Reese Durand single past first base. A flyout ended the inning with Lamar up 1-0 through four.
Rhode Island tied it up in the fifth with a solo homer and took the lead in the top of the seventh on another moon shot, but the Rams wouldn’t hang on to that lead for long. With one out Cherry gave up consecutive walks to Rhett McCall and Kelby Weyler, and then Avery George brought both home when he reached second on an error. Back-to-back lineouts ended the inning with Lamar up 3-2 after seven.
A walk, a stolen base, a 3-1 grounder that moved the runner to third, and a triple tied the game up for Rhode Island in the top of the eighth, and Lamar answered again in the bottom frame. Correa opened the inning with a single to left and advanced to second when Anthony Quirion was hit by a pitch. A double by Kemp off the right field wall brought Correa home, and Quirion scored two batters later on a fielder’s choice on McCall resulted in an errant throw home. A single by Weyler over the head of the URI third baseman brought McCall and Kemp home, and two strikeouts ended the inning with LU up 7-3 through eight.
A leadoff walk reached second on a wild pitch, but Cole Girouard’s defensive prowess shut down the Rhode Island bats in the final frame. The senior from Port Neches, Texas, made consecutive sprinting catches to freeze the runner, and a popup to short sealed the win for Max Mize, who allowed just one hit and one walk in the final inning and a third. Lamar improves to 36-21 on Opening Day and 105-59 in first games against new opponents.
“We did a really good job of taking advantage of mistakes. Kelby had two really great at-bats and drew that walk to set Chase up to knock Cherry out of the game, and Chase delivered with that big hit. Even with the adversity we faced tonight, down by a run in the seventh, it didn’t feel like we once got down or thought we were going to lose. I’m really excited about where we’re at and the potential these guys have. There are certainly still things to figure out, but the pieces of the puzzle are there,” said Davis.
The Cardinals (1-0) return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the second of three games against the University of Rhode Island (0-1). Zach Bravo (7-4, 4.27 ERA in 2019 at Butler JC) will take the mound for Lamar and face Nick Robinson (2-7, 6.13 ERA in 2019 at URI).