Gaconi shuts down UNO as SLU wins Pontchartrain Bowl opener
HAMMOND, La. – Corey Gaconi shut down the New Orleans bats Friday as Southeastern Louisiana took the opening game of the Pontchartrain Bowl series, 7-1, in Southland Conference action at Maestri Field.
Gaconi worked around a couple of threats by UNO (15-15, 3-10 Southland) early until the Lions (15-15, 7-3 Southland) could generate some offense.
With a pair of runners in scoring position and one out in the second, the senior from Metairie, Louisiana, induced a comebacker to the mound and then struck out the final batter.
Designated hitter Preston Faulkner, a sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana, blasted a one-out solo home run to left-center field in the third. His second in as many games, Faulkner tied Nick Ray for the team lead with five.
Nathan Pilutti helped out Gaconi in the bottom half of the inning, cutting down a runner at second attempting to stretch a single into a double to open up the frame.
Ray, a redshirt freshman from Jefferson, Louisiana, dropped a sinking liner into right-center field with one out in the fourth. Privateer right fielder Pearce Howard missed the ball on a diving attempt and Ray wound up with a triple. After Connor Manola followed up with a walk, Ray scored on Pilutti’s single through the left side.
Battling the humidity, Gaconi coughed up a pair of walks over the next two innings. The right-hander entered the evening having issued the fewest walks (per nine innings) in the nation. The pair were the first he had surrendered since Opening Night, a span of 48 innings. He stranded one and picked off the other.
Southeastern broke the game open in the sixth, chasing Privateer starting pitcher Brandon Mitchell. Reliever Michael Oset inherited a bases-loaded, no out situation and Bryce Steckler greeted him with a sacrifice fly to right-center. All three runners advanced, leaving a pair in scoring position. Cody Grosse followed with a two-run single to center field.
After advancing to second base on a passed ball, Grosse got an enormous jump off Oset to steal third base. The reliever’s throw to the bag sailed wide and kicked away, allowing Grosse to score. Kyle Schimpf wrapped up the inning with a two-out, solo homer to right field, tying Faulkner and Ray for the team lead.
UNO scratched across a run in the bottom half of the inning on back-to-back, two-out hits.
Relievers Grant Upton and Payton Robinson worked a scoreless inning each to close out the game.
Gaconi (4-2) earned the win, allowing one run in seven innings. He scattered six hits and two walks, striking out six. Mitchell suffered the loss, allowing five runs in five innings pitched.
The annual battle for the Pontchartrain Bowl trophy concludes Saturday with a 2 p,m. doubleheader on the lakefront.
Sponsored by local alumni of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, the rivalry trophy debuted in 2015. The Lions have laid claim to the trophy and bragging rights three times in four seasons. During the stretch, Southeastern has won 9-of-12 against the Privateers during the regular season.
Lion right-hander Mason Knopp (2-1, 3.24) will oppose UNO junior right-hander Chris Turpin (3-1, 2.70) in Saturday’s first game. Southeastern will counter Privateer freshman right-hander Steven Swift (0-1, 5.54) with sophomore righty Will Warren (2-3, 6.88) in the nightcap.
Both 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 UNO), 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.
LIONS GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE APP
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.
DIAMOND CLUB / S CLUB
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 [email protected] 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 7, New Orleans 1
Southeastern……… 001 105 000 – 7 8 1 (15-15, 7-3 SLC)
New Orleans……… 000 001 000 – 1 6 2 (15-15, 3-10 SLC)
Pitchers: Southeastern – Gaconi, Corey; Upton, Grant (8); Robinson, Payton (9) and Manola, Connor. New Orleans – Mitchell, Brandon; Oset, Mathew (6); DeMayo, Christopher (7) and Bratton, Beau.
Win-Gaconi, Corey (4-2) Loss-Mitchell, Brandon (1-2) T-2:38 A-453
HR SLU – Faulkner, Preston (5); Schimpf, Kyle (5).
Weather: 72 Degrees and Cloudy
Mitchell, B faced 3 batters in the 6th.
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