Lions split doubleheader, finish regular season in second in Southland

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SAN ANTONIO – Southeastern Louisiana split a Southland Conference doubleheader Friday against Incarnate Word, winning the opener, 5-3, and dropping the nightcap, 7-2, at Sullivan Field.

The Lions (30-25, 19-11 Southland) pulled into a temporary tie for first place with Sam Houston State (31-23, 20-10 Southland) following the opening-game victory, but a Bearkat win later in the day coupled with the loss to UIW in the nightcap dropped Southeastern one game back to finish the regular season.

Over the course of the weekend series, four Lion seniors continued their climb up the Southeastern career charts. Corey Gaconi moved past Richard Simon (1970-73) into fifth in career innings pitched (294.1). With his start in the nightcap, Kade Granier tied Brad Rachal (1996-99) for third in career appearances (78).

Jared Biddy picked up saves in both wins, giving him 10 this season and 14 in his career. He is just the fourth pitcher in school history to earn double-digit saves in a season and he is now tied with Chris Province (2004-07) for fifth in career saves.

Brennan Breaud picked up several hits, moving past Macky Waguespack (1995, 1997-99) into eighth place with 212 career hits. He also tied Brett Hoffman (2012-15) for third in games played (231) and tied Cass Hargis (2008-11) for second in games started (230).

Southeastern returns to action Wednesday in first-round action at the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament in Sugar Land, Texas. The Lions will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed pending the outcome of Saturday’s Central Arkansas-Lamar game.

A Central Arkansas win means a No. 3 seeding and a 9 a.m game Wednesday for the Lions against the still to be determined No. 6 seed. A Lamar win means a No. 2 seeding and a 12 p.m. game for the Lions against the still to be determined No. 7 seed. Southeastern’s first-round opponent will be one of three teams: McNeese, Northwestern State or Stephen F. Austin.

GAME 1 – Southeastern 5, UIW 3
The Lions jumped out in front with single runs in the second and third innings.

Brennan Breaud lined a single to center field with two outs in the second, advanced to third base on an errant pickoff throw by Cardinals’ starting pitcher John Shull (2-1), and scored on Nick Ray’s single through the left side.

Bryce Steckler led off the third with a double into the left-center field gap and later scored on Preston Faulkner’s one-out single to left.

UIW cut the Lions’ lead in half in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run, but catcher Connor Manola got the run back with a solo home run in the fourth.

A run in the bottom of the fourth pulled the Cardinals back within one, but Kyle Schimpf extended Southeastern’s lead back to two with a solo home run to right in the fifth. The homer was ninth of the season for the senior from Covington, Louisiana.

Manola extended the Lions’ lead to 5-2 with another solo homer in the sixth. With his second and third homers of the season, the freshman from Port Allen, Louisiana, joins Nick Ray as the only Southeastern players with multihomer games in 2019.

Southeastern starting pitcher Mason Knopp (7-2) worked out of a jam in the sixth, allowing one run, before handing over the ball to the bullpen.

Will Warren worked a pair of scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth, taking advantage of a pair of inning-ending double plays.

Jared Biddy worked a scoreless ninth to earn his second save of the series and 10th of the season. Knopp earned the win, allowing three runs in six innings of work. Shull suffered the loss, surrendering four runs – three earned – in 4.2 innings pitched.

GAME 2 – UIW 7, Southeastern 2
A three-run home run in the bottom of the first by UIW right fielder Taylor Smith proved to be an insurmountable lead.

Cardinal first baseman Ryan Flores added a solo homer in the fourth staking UIW starting pitcher Andrew Morgan (4-0) to a 4-0 lead.

UIW added three more runs off the Lion bullpen in the seventh.

Morgan carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, broken up by Connor Manola’s one-out double down the left-field line, and came within one out of a one-hit shutout. With a runner on, Preston Faulkner blasted a two-run homer to left field. It was the team-leading 11th home run of the season for the sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana.

Reliever Tyler Miller picked up the final out but did not qualify for a save. Morgan earned the win, striking out a season-high 10 batters. Granier (2-4) was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs in two innings pitched.

SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
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+.

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 laa@southeastern.edu 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 5, Incarnate Word 3 (Game 1)
—————————————————————————————–
Southeastern………. 011 111 000 – 5 9 0 (30-24, 19-10 SLC)
Incarnate Word……. 001 101 000 – 3 8 1 (34-20, 17-12 SLC)
—————————————————————————————–
Pitchers: Southeastern – Knopp, Mason; Warren, Will (7); Biddy, Jared (9) and Manola, Connor. Incarnate Word – Shull, John; Vega, Christian (5); Allen, Cody (8); McElmeel, Michael (9) and Smith, Taylor.

Win-Knopp, Mason (7-2) Save-Biddy, Jared (10) Loss-Shull, John (2-1) T-2:50 A-262
HR SLU – Schimpf, Kyle (9); Manola, Connor 2 (3).
HR UIW – Valdez, Antonio (4).
Weather: Cloudy, 86, SE 17 MPH
Vega faced 1 batter in the 8th.

Incarnate Word 7, Southeastern 2 (Game 2)
————————————————————————————————
Southeastern……….. 000 000 002 – 2 2 0 (30-25, 19-11 SLC)
Incarnate Word…….. 301 000 30X – 7 10 0 (35-20, 18-12 SLC)
————————————————————————————————
Pitchers: Southeastern – Granier, Kade; Tassin, Bryce (3); Warren, Will (7); Robinson, Payton (7); Upton, Grant (8) and Manola, Connor. Incarnate Word – Morgan, Andrew; Miller, Tyler (9) and Pettit, Tyler.

Win-Morgan, Andrew (4-0) Loss-Granier, Kade (2-4) T-2:39 A-312
HR SLU – Faulkner, Preston (11).
HR UIW – Smith, Taylor (16); Flores, Ryan (12).
Weather: 78, Overcast, SE 20 MPH

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