Lions eliminate SFA, defeat Central Arkansas to advance to Southland Tournament’s final day

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SUGAR LAND, Texas – No. 3-seeded Southeastern Louisiana swept a pair of games Friday at the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, eliminating Stephen F. Austin, 4-3, and then defeating Central Arkansas, 9-3, to force an “if necessary” game at Constellation Field.

Center fielder Bryce Steckler powered the Lions (33-26), blasting three home runs during the two games.

Southeastern faces a Saturday rematch with Central Arkansas for the right to advance to the tournament championship game. Game time against the Bears (31-26) is 1 p.m. while the championship game against McNeese, 5-3 winners later Friday over UIW, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.

All of Southeastern’s games in the tournament can be heard in the Hammond, Louisiana, 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 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.

Every tournament game will be streamed live on ESPN+, www.ESPN.com/watch and the ESPN app.

GAME 1: Southeastern 4, Stephen F. Austin 3
Southeastern created a distraction on the base paths early, forcing SFA (25-33) starting pitcher Jacob Stobart (6-5) to struggle with his control. The left-hander walked Bryce Steckler to open up the bottom of the first, but Steckler was later caught stealing.

In the second inning, Nathan Pilutti lined a one-out single through the left side. With Brennan Breaud at the plate, and down in the count, Pilutti stole second base. Distracted by the runner at second, Stobart walked Breaud and then walked Nick Ray to load the bases.

Trey Harrington chopped a grounder to third base, but the throw home sailed to the backstop as Pilutti scored. Connor Manola followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, driving home Breaud for a 2-0 lead.

Southeastern expanded its lead in the fourth. Manola worked a two-out walk, putting him on base for Steckler’s third home run of the season.

Lion starting pitcher Will Warren (3-7), who retired the first 10 batters of the game, ran into control issues in the fifth. The right-hander walked two of the first three batters he faced and both scored later in the inning.

Warren rebounded to toss two more scoreless innings before handing it over to the bullpen.

Kade Granier worked a scoreless eighth thanks to a double play, one of three the Lions turned in the game.

The first three Lumberjack batters in the ninth singled off Jared Biddy, loading the bases. SFA pick up a run on a one-out force at third, but Biddy got the next batter to fly out to center field to end the game.

Warren earned the win, allowing two runs in seven innings of work. The sophomore from Brandon, Mississippi, scattered two hits and three walks, striking out five. Stobart suffered the loss, surrendering two runs – one earned – in three innings pitched. He allowed one hit and walked four batters, striking out three.

Biddy picked up his 12th save of the season, tying him with Chris Franklin (2009) for the second-most saves by a Lion in a single season. He also moves into sole possession of fourth place on Southeastern’s career saves (16) list, passing Dylan Hills (2011-14).

Granier’s appearance was the 79th of his career, moving him past Brad Rachal (1996-99) into sole possession of third place on the Lions’ career charts.

Breaud’s eighth-inning triple was the 214th hit of his career, passing Brock Hebert (2010-12) into sole possession of seventh place on Southeastern’s career hits list.

GAME 2: Southeastern 9, Central Arkansas 3
The Lions struck first, picking up an unearned run in the first inning off UCA starting pitcher Noah Cameron (6-2).

UCA grabbed the lead in the second as Lion starting pitcher Trey Shaffer struggled with his control. After a leadoff single, Shaffer hit the Bears’ designated hitter Tanner Wiley with a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners into scoring position, the lead runner scored on a wild pitch. Shaffer hit the next batter with a pitch, putting runners on the corners, before Wiley scored on a fielder’s choice.

Steckler led off the third with a towering home run to left field, tying the game.

After trading scoreless innings, the Lions finally broke through in the sixth. Cameron hit Preston Faulkner with a pitch leading off the inning. Kyle Schimpf and Pilutti followed with back-to-back singles. Faulkner scored on Pilutti’s hit through the left side. Breaud sacrificed both runners into scoring position.

Ray drove in both runners with a single through the right side, his first hit of the tournament. With two outs, Manola doubled down the left-field line to plate Ray and chase Cameron from the game. Steckler greeted reliever Taylor Anders with his second homer of the game and third of the day, pushing the Lions’ advantage to 8-2.

Both teams picked up a run in the ninth.

Bryce Tassin (5-2) earned the win, tossing three scoreless innings in relief of Shaffer. Cameron suffered the loss, allowing a season-high seven runs – six earned – in 5.2 innings pitched.

Schimpf (3-for-5), Pilutti (2-for-4) and Steckler (2-for-4) each picked up multiple hits for the Lions.

TOURNAMENT TICKETS
Tickets for the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament are on sale through the TDECU Ticket Office at Constellation Field (1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land, Texas, 77498), by phone at (281) 240-4487 or online at www.southland.org/baseball.

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.

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

LINESCORES
Southeastern 4, Stephen F. Austin 3 (Game 1)
———————————————————————-
Stephen F. Austin…. 000 020 001 – 3 6 2 (25-33)
Southeastern……….. 020 200 00X – 4 3 0 (32-26)
———————————————————————-
Pitchers: Stephen F. Austin – Stobart, Jacob; Starks, Tyler (4); Roth, Austin (6); Gamez, Jesus (8) and Huber, Jarrod; Erwin, Trey. Southeastern – Warren, Will; Granier, Kade (8); Biddy, Jared (9) and Manola, Connor.

Win-Warren, Will (3-7) Save-Biddy, Jared (12) Loss-Stobart, Jacob (6-5) T-2:45
HR SLU – Steckler, Bryce (3).
Weather: 80, Sunny, Winds SE 11 MPH

Southeastern 9, Central Arkansas 3 (Game 2)
———————————————————————-
Southeastern……….. 101 006 001 – 9 9 2 (33-26)
Central Arkansas….. 020 000 001 – 3 7 3 (31-26)
———————————————————————-
Pitchers: Southeastern – Shaffer, Trey; Tassin, Bryce (5); Robinson, Payton (8); Lee, Peyton (9) and Manola, Connor. Central Arkansas – Cameron, Noah; Anders, Taylor (6) and Sagdahl, Nathaniel.

Win-Tassin, Bryce (5-2) Loss-Cameron, Noah (6-2) T-3:09
HR SLU – Steckler, Bryce 2 (5).
Weather: 89, Sunny, Winds SE 18 mph
Shaffer, T. faced 1 batter in the 5th.

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