Keller’s heroics lift No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana over No. 6 Northwestern State in Southland tourney

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Junior shortstop belts solo shot in eighth inning

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HAMMOND, La. – With the game level at 1-1 in the eighth inning, junior shortstop Evan Keller blasted a solo home run that cleared both walls in left center to give Southeastern Louisiana the winning run in a 2-1 triumph over Northwestern State in Wednesday’s nightcap at the 2021 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, presented by GeoSurfaces.

Runs were few and far between through the first five frames with the Lions striking first by way of a Gaby Cruz sac fly and the Demons equalizing on a wild pitch that allowed Cam Sibley to dash home.

NSU got a pivotal break in the home half of the fifth, when Rhett Rosevear reached on a single and advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw. However, after official review, it was determined that Jake Haze had the tag on Rosevear when he removed his hand from the bag during the slide for a crucial first out.

The Demons responded by loading the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth but couldn’t get anything across before a Lenni Kunert flyout brought an end to the inning.

Though neither starter went down as the pitcher of record, both dazzled over 6.2 innings in the nightcap with NSU’s Cal Carver allowing just one run on two hits and Will Warren giving up one score on three hits with 10 strikeouts, his third-straight outing with double-digit punchouts.

SLU’s Trey Shaffer (3-3) got the win after holding the Demons scoreless with three strikeouts over the final 2.1 innings.

NSU’s Drayton Brown (2-3) was credited with the loss, despite striking out three of his six batters faced, as the one responsible for Keller’s homer.

“It was a good ballgame,” fifth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Their guys pitched great. Our guys pitched great. It came down to them getting one up and getting a home run there. We didn’t get the big hit when we had runners on base.”

No. 7 McNeese will face No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana in the winner’s bracket at 7 p.m. CT Thursday, while No. 2 New Orleans will get No. 6 Northwestern State in an elimination game at noon.

Southland Conference Freshman of the Year Brennan Stuprich (6-2, 2.17 ERA) will take the mound for SLU, while McNeese will counter with Jonathan Ellison (4-3, 3.02 ERA).

Pitchers are not yet known for UNO-NSU.

“We have to come out and fight (Thursday),” Barbier said. “I told them, ‘A lot of times, that game, you lay down for it, because you have to get up early, you’re in the loser’s bracket.’ I think we’ll come out and fight. We’ve got arms down there.”

Southeastern Louisiana 2, Northwestern State 1
NSU 001 000 000 – 1 4 1
SLU 100 000 01x – 2 3 0
W – Trey Shaffer (3-3). L – Drayton Brown (2-3). 2B – NSU, Cam Sibley. HR – SLU, Evan Keller (3). Highlights: NSU, Sibley 2-4, 2B.
Records: Northwestern State 27-25, Southeastern Louisiana 31-22.

2021 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Presented by GeoSurfaces

Wednesday, May 26
Game 1 – No. 4 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4, No. 5 Sam Houston 3
Game 2 – No. 1 Abilene Christian 7. No. 8 Lamar 1
Game 3 – No. 7 McNeese 12, No. 2 New Orleans 0 (8 innings)
Game 4 – No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana 2, No. 6 Northwestern State 1

Thursday, May 27
Game 5 – Sam Houston vs. Lamar, 9 a.m.
Game 6 – New Orleans vs. Northwestern State, 12 p.m.
Game 7 – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. Abilene Christian, 4 p.m.
Game 8 – McNeese vs. Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 28
Game 9 – Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7, 9 a.m.
Game 10 – Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8, 12 p.m.
Game 11 – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 4 p.m.
Game 12 – Winner Game 8 vs. Winner 10, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 29
Game 13 – Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11 (Only necessary if Game 9 winner wins Game 11)
Game 14 – Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 (Only necessary if Game 10 winner wins Game 12)
Game 15 – Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14, 6 p.m.
If only one of the two early games is necessary on Saturday, it will be played at 1 p.m.

TOURNAMENT TICKET INFORMATION
General Admission booklets, allowing admission to every game of the tournament, are $100 for adults and $50 for youths ages 3-12. Students presenting a valid ID from a current Southland Conference institution, and children under the age of three, will be admitted free of charge.

For each day of the baseball tournament, any remaining tickets will be sold for the morning session (first two games) or afternoon session (last two games). The ballpark will be cleared between sessions and re-entry is not allowed.

Session ticket prices are: $21 (box seats, as available), $17 (chairback seats, as available), $13 (general admission adults) and $9 (general admission youth – ages 3-12).

Tickets can be purchased online here or by contacting the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Fridays. The ticket booth at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field opens exactly one hour prior to the scheduled first pitch.

MOBILE TICKETING
Southeastern implemented mobile ticketing as the primary method for securing tickets during the 2020-21 school year. Tickets will be available via text message or email in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

GAMEDAY PARKING
Single-day parking during the 2021 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, presented by GeoSurfaces, is $5 for most vehicles. An All-Tournament parking pass is available for $20 for standard vehicles and $50 for RVs.

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