Louisiana Christian walks off Houston-Victoria, clinches postseason berth

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon

PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana Christian University baseball team punched its postseason ticket by rallying back from a 7-3 deficit in the middle of the fifth inning to walk-off the rubber game of the series against Houston-Victoria in a 9-8 win over the Jaguars Saturday afternoon at Billy Allgood Field at Legacy Stadium.

Things were looking good to start for the Wildcats as two quick ground balls resulted in easy outs to start off the top of the first inning. But a double halted the hopes of a quick inning, and then a two-run home run put UHV on the board.

LCU had its own two-out response in the bottom of the first as Keelyn Johnson lifted a pitch into the steady winds blowing across from right field to left field that gave it a push to get over the left-center wall for a solo shot to cut the deficit down to 2-1.

The Wildcats took their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Ju’Juan Franklin reached on an error, he was moved over to second by Nick Brunet’s sacrifice bunt. Haydon Helms then came up with the big hit as he took a high pitch and hit it off the top of the wall in right for a triple, scoring Franklin. Jacob Fowler followed that with a base hit up the gut to plate Helms to put LCU up 3-2.

That lead did not last long as the Jaguars got a lead-off home run to start the top of the fifth, immediately tying the game and kicking off what would end up being a five-run inning for UHV to give the visitors a 7-3 lead following a three-run homer with one out.

But the offensive momentum the Wildcats started in the bottom of the fourth continued with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to get LCU right back in the game. With Keelyn Johnson standing on first base with two outs, Nick Brunet was hit by a pitch to get the rally started. Haydon Helms shot a pitch right back up the middle to score Johnson. After a wild pitch moved Brunet and Helms each up 90 feet, a passed ball allowed them to move up again as Brunet touched home to make it 7-5. Peyton Lamartiniere kept it going with a pinch hit base hit back up the chute to score Helms and the deficit was one at 7-6 when the inning came to an end.

UHV got what appeared to be a significant insurance run in the top of the seventh as a batter was hit with the bases loaded and two outs to force in a run and make it 8-6 Jaguars. But LCU started getting the late-inning momentum going in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Adrian Aguilar went back up the middle again for a base hit. He was pushed to second as Alex Ashby watched ball four go by. After a wild pitch moved Ashby and Aguilar up to second and third, respectively, the Jaguars decided to intentionally walk Keelyn Johnson, loading the bases with one out. Ju’Juan Franklin ended up doing the job as he hit the ball into left-center, deep enough to allow Aguilar to tag up following the catch and score to make it 8-7. While the other runners were left stranded when the inning ended, the Wildcats were well within striking distance for the final inning.

The Jaguar ninth started with the lead-off hitter getting hit by a pitch. After he was bunted over to second, Beau Hebert was summoned to get LCU out of the jam and keep it a one-run deficit. He did the job asked, striking out the first batter he faced, and then induced a routine fly ball to left to end the inning, stranding the runner at second and setting up the dramatics in the bottom half of the ninth.

Representing the tying run, Haydon Helms watched ball four fly by to draw a base on balls to get things started. With Dylan David taking Helms’s position on first, Peyton Lamartiniere laid down the sacrifice bunt right down the first base line, allowing David to move up into scoring position with just one out. Nicklaus Stein also drew a walk to represent the winning run on first base. After a strikeout made it a do-or-die situation, Adrian Aguilar came through with the game tying-hit, going through the left side of the infield to score David. Now with extra innings guaranteed at minimum, the Wildcats were still in good position to walk it off with Stein now standing on second base. And that walk-off came in an unlikely fashion as Alex Ashby lifted a pitch towards the right field wall and as the UHV right fielder got under it on the warning track, it hit off his glove and bounced to the ground, allowing Stein to make the turn around third and score the walk-off run to give the Wildcats the 9-8 win.

Adrian Aguilar led the offense, going three-of-six in the contest with a run scored and the game-tying RBI. Keelyn Johnson went two-for-three, including his sixth home run of the season, two walks, a RBI, and two runs scored. Haydon Helms also went two-for-three with a triple, two walks, two RBI, and two runs scored. Jacob Fowler and Peyton Lamartiniere were both one-for-one with a RBI apiece while both were asked to lay down sacrifice bunts as well with Lamartiniere also being hit by a pitch.

Less than 24 hours after a rough outing that resulted in him picking up a losing decision, Beau Hebert (3-3) shook it off and got the job done in the rubber game, getting both batters he faced in the ninth inning out to strand an inherited runner and get the win on the mound for the Wildcats. Colten Newsom started the contest and went 4.1 winnings, allowing nine hits and seven runs, all earned, walked one and didn’t strike anyone out. Dylan Coburn threw 1.2 innings and gave up just one hit and not runs with no walks and one strikeout. Chase Gardner threw an inning and gave up one hit and one run, which was earned, with one walk and no strikeouts. Branon Pope threw 1.1 innings and gave up one hit and gave up no runs and no walks with no strikeouts.

The win secured the Wildcats (23-11, 16-8 RRAC) a spot in the 2022 Red River Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Tournament at the end of April in Sterlington. But there’s still plenty of games to play before the start of the postseason, starting with the next conference series, which is on the road against Texas A&M-Texarkana. First pitch of Friday’s single game against the Eagles (25-17, 15-9 RRAC) is set for 7:00 P.M. at George Dobson Field in Texarkana, Texas.

  • < PREV Stout relief pitching fuels LSU series-clinching win at Mississippi State
  • NEXT > Cowgirls take two wins during DH against Southeastern