FROM SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE RELEASE
Texas State can win the Southland Conference title outright with a victory Saturday against UT Arlington. The Bobcats can also earn a share of the regular-season championship in defeat provided that Northwestern State also loses in its series finale vs. Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions and Bobcats would finish with identical conference records in that scenario and while they would share the conference regular-season title, Southeastern would be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament since it won two of three games against Texas State earlier this season. Northwestern State can win an outright championship should it beat Southeastern on Saturday and Texas State lose. The eighth and final seed is still not determined entering the final day of the regular season. Nicholls leads UTSA by one game. A Colonels’ win or a Roadrunners’ loss puts Nicholls in the tournament. A Colonels’ loss and a UTSA win send the Roadrunners to Corpus Christi for the tournament since the Roadrunners own the tiebreaker between the teams by virtue of its regular-season sweep.
Northwestern State 8, Southeastern Louisiana 4
HAMMOND, La. – The 2010 Southland Conference baseball champion will be crowned on the final day of the season and Northwestern State has positioned itself for a chance to capture the league’s regular-season title after an 8-4 win at Southeastern Louisiana on Friday.
The Demons improved to 35-19 overall and 21-10 in league play and trail Texas State (33-20, 22-10), a 6-0 loser to UT Arlington on Friday, by just a half game in the league standings.
A win over Southeastern (39-16, 21-11 Southland) in Saturday’s 2 p.m. finale and a Texas State loss to UTA, and the Demons will clinch their 10th Southland title in school history and first under third-year head coach J.P. Davis.
Northwestern put 10 hits up on the board and was led by Eric DeBlanc’s 3-for-5 game with two runs scored while Colin Bear added a 3-for-4 game with two RBI.
Starting pitcher Ryan Zimmerman improved his record to 6-4 after he threw six innings and gave up four runs on three hits with two strikeouts and five walks. Heath Hennigan was dominant in earning his second save of the season after he gave up just one hit in three innings with five strikeouts.
The Demons wasted little time getting on the board on Friday as Northwestern plated three first-inning runs after it scored two runs on an error and a wild pitch. DeBlanc extended his school-record hitting streak to 27 games after an infield single to start the game.
"We got the three spot there in the first inning and that was huge," Davis said. "Zimmerman gave up the two-run homer in the bottom of the inning but then settled in really nice and put up five zeroes on the board."
Southeastern closed to within 3-2 in the bottom of the inning on a Justin Boudreax two-run home run, but after that, Demon starting pitcher Ryan Zimmerman settled nicely and didn’t allow another hit until the seventh inning. And in the fourth inning, Demon catcher Aaron Munoz picked off his 13th base runner of the season, a national high.
Meanwhile, Northwestern went up 6-2 in the sixth inning when Chase Lyles scored on a passed ball and Colin Bear belted a two-run double.
"That sixth inning was the inning that really did it for us," Davis said. "And then Chase gets the homer in the ninth to put the icing on it. But Zim did a really nice job for us and Hennigan came in and was just dominant."
The lead increased to 7-2 in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Adam Roy that scored DeBlanc who led off the inning with a single.
The Lions cut the lead to 7-4 with two runs in the bottom of the inning but Lyles bashed a two-out, solo home run in the top of the ninth to put the Demons up 8-4. It was Lyles’ seventh home run of the season and 30th in his career – one short of the school career record of 31.
UT Arlington 6, Texas State 0
SAN MARCOS, Texas – Rett Varner threw his first career complete-game shutout, Preston Beck drove in five of UT Arlington’s six runs and Jesse Payne was a hit shy of the cycle while also going deep in the Mavericks’ 6-0 victory over Texas State on Friday evening at Bobcat Baseball Stadium.
The Mavericks (27-28, 19-13 Southland) are one win away from setting the school record for conference wins in a season as they tied the mark set by last year’s squad which went 19-13. Texas State (33-20, 22-10 Southland) was shutout for just the second time in conference play this season.
Varner (7-5) needed only 100 pitches (69 strikes) in his dominating performance as he scattered seven hits without walking a batter and struck out four in his team-leading seventh win of the season.
Bobcats’ starter Michael Russo (4-2) suffered the loss while allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched.
Payne, who batted lead-off for just the fifth time this season, launched his sixth home run to lead-off the game. He went 3-for-4 with three runs scored while finishing a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Payne also hit a ground-rule double over the right-center field wall in the sixth and singled up the middle in the eighth. It was the third time this season that Payne was just one hit away from hitting for the cycle.
The Mavs held a 1-0 lead until the sixth inning when Beck drove in two runs with a two-out, single up the middle to score left fielder Jake Pinchback and Payne.
Varner, who never threw three balls to a batter in the game, took advantage of three double-plays by the Mavericks defense in three consecutive innings to escape trouble with runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings and with a 4-6-3 ground-ball double play in the fifth.
Varner made it through five innings of work throwing only 51 pitches. He struck out two batters through eight innings and then capped off his outing with a pair of swinging strikeouts to start the ninth. Bobcat first baseman Kyle Livingstone then flew out to Beck in right field to end the game for a three-up, three-down ninth inning.
The Mavericks finished off their scoring with another clutch hit from Beck in the eighth inning, this time it was a three-run homer over the right-field wall for his second homer of the season. Beck finished with a season-high five RBI and extended his hit streak to 15 games.
UT Arlington All-American center fielder Michael Choice was intentionally walked in the sixth inning to extend his reaching base safely streak to 67 game dating back to last season. Choice’s intentional walk was his 20th of the season and 25th of his career.
UT Arlington will look to win its seventh conference series of the season on Saturday with a 1:10 p.m. first pitch against the Bobcats in the regular season finale for both squads.
Stephen F. Austin 10, Lamar 6
BEAUMONT, Texas – Brad Oates allowed just two runs in six innings of work and Stephen F. Austin jumped on Lamar starter Jonathan Dziedzic for five runs in the first two innings on its way to a 10-6 win over the Cardinals, tying the school record for wins in a season and clinching SFA’s first ever series win over Lamar.
SFA (34-17, 20-11 Southland) remained in fourth place in the league after Friday, winning its 20th league game for the first time in school history behind 14 hits on the night. Lamar (30-24, 15-17 Southland) once again left double-digit base runners on, stranding a dozen despite having 12 hits against SFA pitching.
The win gives SFA its first-ever series victory over Lamar in a rivalry that spans 53 games, and also ties the 1984 SFA squad with 34 wins on the year for the most ever by a Lumberjack team.
All but one Lumberjack hitter finished with at least one hit on the night, including Riley Huble’s 3-for-4 night with two RBI to lead the way. Justin Long hit what proved to be a crucial pinch-hit, three-run homer in the top of the seventh for his second long ball in as many nights. Tanner Hines also swiped his 20th bag of the year, giving him 37 for his career, which ties Zach Gardner for the all-time record at the school.
Oates needed just 92 pitches to navigate a season-high six innings in earning his first win as a starter, running his record to 3-2 on the year with four strikeouts and no walks on the night. He scattered just six hits on the night as well, five of which came in the first two innings.
Dziedzic took the loss for Lamar, falling to 4-5 on the year, allowing eight runs in six innings with eight strikeouts.
SFA jumped all over Dziedzic early on with five runs in the first two innings against the freshman with four of the first five Lumberjack hitters reached base to start the game. Huble delivered a one-out two-bagger that got SFA on the board first with two runs and Bo Coffman added an RBI ground out to give the ‘Jacks an early 3-0 lead.
After the Cardinals went scoreless in their half of the first, SFA struck again for two more runs in the second on a sacrifice fly from Bobby Loveless and a double into the left-center field gap from Jarid Scarafiotti to push the advantage to 5-0.
Anthony Moore got to Oates in the Lamar half of the second with a two-run double, but Oates went on to retire 15 of the next 18 hitters he faced and never faced a real jam in the remainder of his night.
Meanwhile, Dziedzic had settled down as well until the top of the seventh when consecutive singles from Huble and Coffman drove him from the game. Long then entered to pinch hit against the new pitcher Blake Ford and deposited the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence for a three-run homer to give the ‘Jacks a comfortable 9-2 cushion.
That proved to be huge as Lamar loaded the bases in the seventh against reliever Jared West, but were only able to muster a bases-loaded walk from Wade Mathis to trim the lead to six. Zack Taylor then entered to pitch the eighth, but loaded the bases as well and gave up an RBI single to Kevin Roebuck before giving way to Cory Ochs. The sophomore managed to minimize the damage as well, allowing just two runs to cross while getting three of the four hitters he faced to keep SFA out in front 9-6.
The ‘Jacks added an insurance run in the ninth on a pair of miscues by the Cardinals, and that was more than enough for closer Jason West who came in and pitched around a pair of walks to throw a scoreless ninth and secure the win.
SFA will close out the regular season against the Cardinals on Saturday with Justin Braddock schedule to go for the ‘Jacks against Eric Harrington for Lamar. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
McNeese State 14, Nicholls 12
LAKE CHARLES, La. – A solid offensive performance helped McNeese State snap a five-game Southland Conference losing skid as they took down Nicholls State 14-13 Friday night.
The win clinched the Cowboys a sixth seed heading into next week’s conference tournament at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas.
McNeese (29-24, 16-16 Southland) held the lead for the entire game but Nicholls (25-27, 14-18 Southland) didn’t go away easily, making it a one run ball game after scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning off of Cowboy closer Matt Click. But the Cowboys held strong, turning their third double play of the contest to end the game and hand Click his seventh save of the year.
"It was not pretty to say the least," McNeese State coach Terry Burrows said. "We’ll take a win any way we can get it but I’m not happy with the way we played."
The Cowboys were up 10-4 after six innings but gave up nine runs to the Colonels in the final three innings of play.
McNeese started off strong, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the second. Lee Orr then tied his 2009 home run total as he belted his 15th of the year, a three run shot, over the right center wall. Seth Granger then came to the plate and made it back to back homers, giving McNeese the commanding lead after six innings of play.
The Colonels put up four runs in the top of the seventh, capitalizing on a Bryn Thompson error that extended the inning. Nicholls then scored one more in the eighth before putting up four more in the come from behind attempt in the ninth. Click hit two batters in the final inning, loading the bases before the game ending double play.
Granger wrapped up the game going four-for-five from the plate with two RBI and two runs scored. Every Cowboy in the starting lineup hit safely and scored at least one run. Shortstop Jace Peterson stole three bases, putting his season total at 33, just two shy of tying the McNeese single-season record.
Starting pitcher Jaden Dillon remained perfect on the year, moving his record to 8-0 after going 6.1 innings. Trey Brown relieved Dillon in the seventh but lasted just an inning allowing two earned runs.
"We swung the bats just fine," Burrows added. "But at the same time we need to do the little things in a baseball game to win day in and day out."
The Cowboys will wrap up their 2010 regular season schedule Saturday afternoon during the third and final game against Nicholls. First pitch will be at 1 p.m. with Zach Butler (1-3, 6.44 ERA) taking the mound for McNeese.
UTSA 5, Central Arkansas 4 (11 innings)
UTSA 2, Central Arkansas 1
CONWAY, Ark. – Freshman Ryan Dalton hit a solo home run with two down in the 11th and UTSA won its eighth game in a row with a thrilling 2-1 victory at Central Arkansas in the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader at Bear Stadium.
The victory pulled the Roadrunners (22-27, 13-19 Southland) within one game of Nicholls, which dropped a 14-12 decision at McNeese State, for the eighth and final spot in next week’s Southland Conference tournament in Corpus Christi. A UTSA victory coupled with a Colonels loss on Saturday would send the Roadrunners to seventh consecutive postseason tournament.
With Bears starter Dustin Ward coming out for his 11th inning of work, the Roadrunners saw senior Lance Brown and junior Ryan Hutson go down looking on strikes to start the frame. Dalton then hooked his 16th homer of the season inside the left-field foul pole on a first-pitch fastball from Ward, barely clearing the fence, and that gave UTSA its second win of the day on a long ball in its final at bat.
The homer tied the Roadrunners’ third baseman with UT Arlington’s Michael Choice and Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Trey Hernandez for the Southland Conference lead and it matches the fifth-best single-season total in program history.
That made a winner out of junior right-hander Kevin Clarke (8-2), who won both ends of a doubleheader for the second time in a week. The Huntsville, Texas, native, who came on with runners on first and second and two down in the ninth, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in that inning and around an error to start the following frame before setting the Bears down in order in the 11th. He walked one and fanned a batter.
UTSA jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with an unearned mark in the opening frame.
Junior Tyler Carpenter was hit by a pitch to start the contest and Ward then mishandled a chopper off the bat of Brown. Carpenter moved to third when UCA right fielder Jake Fuller dropped a fly ball off the bat of junior Ryan Hutson, but Fuller was able to throw out Brown at second base. Dalton brought Carpenter home one batter later with a fielder’s choice grounder to third.
The Bears (18-35-1, 9-22-1 Southland) got a two-out solo homer from Clay Washington, his team-leading fifth of the year, to tie the game in the bottom of the stanza.
The starting pitchers then settled in and an old-fashioned pitching duel developed.
Ward (2-6) threw the third-longest game by a starting pitcher in Central Arkansas history, 11 innings, allowing just four hits and three walks, while striking out a career-high nine. Jeremy Cloud (2007) and Trent Mallett (1971) hold the program record of 12. The southpaw retired 23 of the previous 28 hitters he faced before surrendering Dalton’s home run.
UTSA starter Ryan Proudfoot was just as dominant, giving up the Bears’ lone run on seven hits in 8.2 panels of work. The senior right-hander fanned a season-best eight and walked three in the no-decision.
Brown (second-inning double), freshman Daniel Rockett (seventh-inning single) and Rummel (sixth-inning double) had the Roadrunners’ three other hits.
Zach Dickson and Blake Roberts both had two safeties for UCA.
UTSA will go after its third consecutive series sweep at 1 p.m. on Saturday in what will be the regular-season finale for both teams.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 9, Sam Houston State 4
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Friday and received a solid first career start from Trenton Irwin as the Islander baseball team evened its series with Sam Houston State 1-1 with a 9-4 win.
The Islanders (20-32-1, 10-21-1 Southland) picked up their 20th overall win of the season with victory and 10th Southland victory. The Bearkats dropped to 18-36 overall and 10-22 in the league.
The season finale will be Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be the final home game for both teams with Senior Day celebrations beginning at 12:40 p.m. for the trio of Jake Liedka, Jake Olier and Brandon Orr.
A&M-Corpus Christi finished the game with 15 hits. Ten of the hits came from the top four slots in the Islander order. Cory Ege led the way with three hits and four runs batted in from the clean-up slot, while Caleb Marx, Omar Garcia and Trey Hernandez each had two hits.
"I am so proud of Trenton today," Islander coach Scott Malone said. "He put zeroes up, threw Ks and really competed. The offense did what it was supposed to and scored runs early giving Trenton a chance to relax. Trenton and (Chris) Pena never let Sam get into the game offensively. They kept them offense balance.
"Offensively, when you get 10 hits from the top four hitters you are doing what you need to do at the plate."
A&M-Corpus Christi opened the bottom of the first with three straight singles off Brent Powers to load the bases. Ege roped a two-run double down the right-field line scoring Marx and Garcia. Marc Damon brought in the third with a sacrifice fly to center plating Hernandez.
In the second inning, Bobby Buckner, who also had two hits, opened the inning with a solo home run to right-center field. It was Buckner’s fifth home run of the season.
Irwin, who permitted one base runner in each of the first two innings, took a shutout into the fourth inning. The junior, who had tossed eight innings all season, retired the first two batters in the fourth with no problem before a single by Marc Hudson. Hudson advanced two bases by stealing second and moving to third as Garcia’s throw to second was high.
Irwin appeared to get out of the inning with no score as he struck out Jordan Bunch. Garcia dropped the third strike and threw the ball down the first-base line. Bunch went to second and scored the second run on a single to left by Ryan Mooney.
Irwin would toss five innings scattering four hits, striking out two and walking one. The righty allowed two unearned runs to earn his first win as an Islander.
Following a solo home run by Taylor Davis in the top of the sixth off Pena to make it a 4-3 game, the Islanders plated five more runs in their next three trips at the plate off reliever Justin Jackson.
Pena tossed three strong innings in relief allowing just the one run. He fanned a career-high six batters with no walks.
After Buckner crossed the plate on a double into the corner in left by Marx, A&M-Corpus Christi scored twice in each of its next two at bats. In the seventh, Hernandez blasted a solo home run to right for his 16th of the season which is the third most in a single season. Matt Holland followed with a single and, after back-to-back singles by Jeramie Marek and Marc Damon, scored on a grounder by Vergne.
In the eighth, Olier led the inning off with a pinch-hit single off Jackson. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Olier went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Garcia. Following an intentional walk to Hernandez, Ege tripled to into the corner in right scoring a pair of runs. It was the team’s 23rd triple of the season.
Sam Houston’s Bunch capped the scoring with a solo home run in the ninth off Liedka.