Faulkner’s blast lifts Lions at UIW

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SAN ANTONIO – Preston Faulkner blasted a three-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday, lifting Southeastern Louisiana from a one-run deficit to an 8-6 win over Incarnate Word in the Southland Conference series opener at Sullivan Field.

Southeastern (29-24, 18-10 Southland) remains tied with Central Arkansas (28-24, 18-10 Southland) for second place in the conference standings, one game back of first-place Sam Houston State (30-22, 19-9 Southland). UIW (34-19, 17-11 Southland) falls to fourth place in the standings, trailing the Lions and UCA by one game.

With thunderstorms expected later this weekend, Southeastern and UIW will now wrap up the three-game series with a Friday doubleheade. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The games can be heard in the Hammond area on the flagship station of the Southeastern Sports Radio Network, KSLU 90.9 FM, online at www.LionSports.net/ListenLive and via both the Lions Gameday Experience and TuneIn Radio apps.

Fans can also keep up with all the action through streaming video (provided by UIW), live statistics or by following @SLUathletics on Twitter. Web links to audio, video and stats are available on the baseball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.

In the opener, the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead, picking up three first-inning runs off Southeastern starting pitcher Corey Gaconi.

Lion center fielder Bryce Steckler led off the third inning with a towering homer to left field. It was the second of the season for the senior from Redmond, Washington.

UIW got that run back in the fourth with back-to-back hits by Antonio Valdez and Ryan Gonzalez.

Cody Grosse pulled a double down the right-field line with one out in the fifth. He scored on Kyle Schimpf’s two-out single through the right side.

A leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning put the Cardinals back up by three, 5-2.

Southeastern tied up the game in the sixth. Nathan Pilutti reached on an error by the third baseman to lead off the inning. Brennan Breaud followed with a single to center. Pilutti scored on Nick Ray’s single to right. With runners on the corners, Ray stole second base.

Steckler drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Grosse lofted a shallow fly ball to center. Breaud scored from third and Ray scored after the ball was mishandled at the plate.

The Cardinals regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on a fielder’s choice grounder to short.

Steckler started a two-out rally in the eighth, chopping a ball that bounced over the first baseman’s head. Grosse drew a walk, forcing UIW’s Bernie Martinez (8-2) from the game, and Preston Faulkner greeted reliever Luke Taggart with the game-winning shot.

Jared Biddy tossed a pair of scoreless innings to close out the game, earning his ninth save of the season.

Trey Shaffer (2-3) earned the win, working 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Gaconi. Martinez suffered the loss, allowing six runs – three earned – in 5.1 innings of relief.

Breaud (2-for-4), Ray (2-for-5), Schimpf (2-for-4) and Steckler (2-for-3) each churned out multiple hits for the Lions.

Tickets for the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament are on sale through the TDECU Ticket Office at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas, by phone at (281) 240-4487 or online at www.southland.org/baseball.

The double-elimination tournament, scheduled for May 22-25 at Constellation Field (1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land, Texas, 77498), will feature the league’s top eight teams and concludes with a winner-take-all championship game May 25 at 6 p.m. CT. The winner of the tournament will receive the Southland’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All games will broadcast on ESPN+.

The new Lions Gameday Experience app puts audio, stats, video, social media and more in the hands of fans. Those in attendance can also check in to earn reward points redeemable for Southeastern-related prizes. Available for both Android and iOS devices, it can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the baseball program are encouraged to join the Diamond Club. Lion baseball alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Diamond Club and S Club (baseball) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern baseball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

For more information on Lions Baseball, follow @LionUpBaseball or @MattRiser17 on Twitter, @LionUpBaseball on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

Southeastern 8, Incarnate Word 6
Southeastern……… 001 013 030 – 8 10 0 (29-24, 18-10 SLC)
Incarnate Word…… 300 111 000 – 6 13 2 (34-19, 17-11 SLC)
Pitchers: Southeastern – Gaconi, Corey; Shaffer, Trey (6); Biddy, Jared (8) and Manola, Connor. Incarnate Word – Perez, Tyler; Martinez, Bernie (3); Taggart, Luke (8); Foral, Johnny (8) and Smith, Taylor.

Win-Shaffer, Trey (2-3) Save-Biddy, Jared (9) Loss-Martinez, Bernie (8-2) T-3:37 A-234
HR SLU – Faulkner, Preston (10); Steckler, Bryce (2).
HR UIW – Smith, Taylor (15).
Weather: 85, Partly Cloudy, SE 12 MPH
Taggart, L faced 1 batter in the 8th.

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