Loyola opens NAIA Tournament with pair of wins

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Payton Alexander

The Loyola Wolf Pack baseball made history on Monday in Shreveport, Louisiana, winning the program’s first-ever NAIA national tournament game with a 13-2 win over No. 5-seed Fisher College.

The fourth-seeded Wolf Pack was not done either, also taking down top-seeded and No. 4 nationally ranked LSU Shreveport 7-4 in the nightcap to move on to Tuesday’s winner’s bracket game.

Loyola (35-22) will now meet No. 3-seed Lyon College at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Game 1: Loyola 13, Fisher College 2

Loyola quickly put two runners on as Allen Dennis reached on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat and Luke Clement doubled to left field shortly after. Payton Alexander followed with his fifth triple of the season to score both runs, as the Wolf Pack jumped on the scoreboard first. Another run would score in the next inning, as Cameron Trosclair doubled to center and Kason Cullins brought him home with an RBI single.

With Loyola leading 3-0, the game broke open in the fifth inning as four Wolf Pack players came home to score. Dennis led off the frame with a single to left, and he was later driven home thanks to a base hit from Jake Mills. Trosclair and Christopher Bohrer both walked to load the bases, then pinch hitter Garrett Beadle cleared the bases with a triple to right field, pushing Loyola’s advantage to 7-0.

Fisher didn’t get on the board until the sixth inning, but their success was fleeting, as the Wolf Pack batted around the order in the bottom of the inning, plating five more runs. Kason Cullins was hit by a pitch to start the action, being brought home on a deep triple to right-center from Dennis moments later. A couple of walks loaded the bases, and Dennis and Clement were able to score again after an errant throw to home from the Fisher pitcher. Alexander and Bohrer were next to cross home plate, as an RBI single from Jake Mills to center stretched the Loyola lead to double digits, 12-1.

Starter Matthew Weil looked solid in the longest pitching appearance of his career. Weil allowed just one run in the game’s first six innings before Matthew Bratton came in to pitch the seventh. Bratton also allowed only one run in his three innings of work, as each team plated one more in the seventh, and Loyola maintained its huge lead to advance to the night game.

Game 2: Loyola 7, LSU Shreveport 4

The Pilots were dominant through the first five innings, with Loyola only able to muster a single base runner on a single from Gabriel Trastoy in the top of the third.

The tides started to change in the sixth inning, however. With LSU Shreveport leading 3-0, the Wolf Pack were able to make up some ground, starting with the top of the order and Kason Cullins drawing a walk with two outs. Allen Dennis made it two base runners for the Pack, getting a ball to drop in no-man’s land in the outfield. Clement then doubled to bring both runners home, as Loyola cut it to a 3-2 ballgame. The Pilots added one to their lead in the bottom of the inning, but the Wolf Pack started to gain momentum.

Loyola would carry that momentum into the seventh inning, loading the bases with just one out with a Jake Mills double and back-to-back walks drawn by Trosclair and Gabriel Trastoy. LSUS was nearly able to turn a double play during Garrett Beadle’s at-bat as he hit one straight to the pitcher who threw Mills out at home. The Pilots were then unable to throw Beadle out at first, and it allowed Trosclair’s pinch-runner, Ryan Smilari, to come home while leaving runners at the corners.

Trastoy’s pinch-runner, Tucker Ganley, was driven in on a single to left from Cullins, and the game went into the eighth inning tied at 4-4.

Loyola took its first lead, a three-run advantage, in the top of the eighth, a rally that was started by Payton Alexander reaching first on a walk. A Mills single put two runners on for the Pack, then a Trosclair double drove in Alexander to put Loyola ahead 5-4. Mills later scored off of an error that allowed Trastoy to reach first, then Trosclair touched home plate before Ganley was caught stealing on a steal-and-stop play for the third out, stretching the Wolf Pack advantage to 7-4.

After Stephen Still got the start and allowed just two earned runs in six innings, Brett Fisackerly entered to pitch in the seventh and got the job done over the last three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six to get his eighth win of the season.

Previously 0-4 in NAIA National Championship games, Loyola secured its first tournament victories on Monday.

This was also Loyola’s first victory over LSU-Shreveport since March 13, 2010.

Luke Clement continued his hot-hitting stretch with another multi-hit game against Fisher and a double against LSU Shreveport. He’s had at least one hit in 21 consecutive games, and he’s reached base in 35 straight.

Between the two games on Friday, Clement totaled three doubles, bringing his total to 17 doubles this season. That’s tied for the eighth-most doubles in a season in Loyola history.

Allen Dennis owns the second-longest on-base streak on the team at 23 games. He extended that streak, and his seven-game hitting streak, with hits in both contests on Monday.

The third-longest active on-base streak on the team belongs to Cameron Trosclair, who recorded a hit in each game, including the go-ahead double in the seventh inning of the nightcap. Trosclair is up to 12 doubles this season, one of four players on the team with at least 12 doubles.

Dennis scored four runs between the two games, bringing his season total to 59 total runs. That’s tied for the second-most in a season in Loyola history, and it’s just two runs behind Payton Alexander’s total of 61 from last season.

Alexander and Dennis each hit a triple in Game 1. This season, Dennis and Alexander have been as even as possible in Loyola’s triples records. Each player has five triples in 2022, which is tied for the second-most in a season in program history. They also each rank second in career triples at Loyola with nine apiece.

Matthew Weil’s Game 1 start was by far the longest of his Wolf Pack career. Weil threw six innings while allowing just one run to earn his first career win.

Brett Fisackerly improved his season win-loss record to 8-0 in 2022. That’s tied for the second-most wins in a season in program history. His 13 career wins are also eighth in program history.


Monday, May 16:

Game 1: #4 Loyola def. #5 Fisher College, 13-2

Game 2: #3 Lyon College def. #2 Science and Arts, 10-4

Game 3: #4 Loyola def. #1 LSU Shreveport, 7-4

Tuesday, May 17:

Game 4: #2 Science and Arts vs. #5 Fisher College, 11 a.m.

Game 5: #4 Loyola vs #3 Lyon College, 2:30 p.m. (WATCH LIVE)

Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. LSU Shreveport, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, May 18:

Game 7: Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 5, 11 a.m.

Game 8: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 7, 2:30 p.m. – Championship Game

Thursday, May 19:

Game 9: If Necessary Championship Game – Noon

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