SLU holds off South Alabama, 5-4

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HAMMOND, La. – After watching South Alabama roar back to tie the game in the top of the eighth, the Southeastern Louisiana University baseball team scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning and held on for a 5-4 non-conference win Tuesday against South Alabama at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

Southeastern (22-25) built a 4-0 lead through five innings as three Lion pitchers combined to hold South Alabama (23-28) hitless into the sixth inning.

Jackson Rodriguez (2-1) earned the win, allowing one run in 1.1 innings of relief work. He surrendered one hit and one walk, striking out one. Connor Spencer picked up the final two outs of the game to earn his second save, stranding the potential tying run at second base by striking out the final batter.

Zach Willingham (2-2), sixth Jaguar pitcher of the game, suffered the loss. The left-hander surrendered one run on two hits and hit a batter in 0.1 innings of work.

TJ Salvaggio homered and tripled, scoring a pair of runs. Connor Manola had a pair of RBI hits, including the game-winner in the eighth.

Salvaggio led off the second with a solo home run, his team-leading eighth of the season.

In the fourth, Salvaggio ripped a one-out triple to deep left-center field. He scored on Manola’s RBI double over the head of the left fielder, chasing the South Alabama starting pitcher from the game.

SLU doubled its lead in the fifth with a pair of unearned runs. Dane Watts drew a leadoff walk and then stole second base. It was one of seven Lion steals in the game. Advancing to third on a groundout, Watts scored when the catcher missed a throw from the first baseman on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Tyler Finke. After advancing to second on the error, Finke moved over to third on a passed ball and scored on Shea Thomas’ RBI single up the middle.

The Jaguars’ first hit of the game was a solo homer leading off the sixth. They picked up two more runs on a two-out double in the seventh and tied the game in the eighth on a squeeze bunt.

Champ Artigues led off the eighth with a single up the middle. Pinch runner Joe Delaney stole both second and third, coming home to score the eventual winning run on Manola’s RBI single to center.

Finke swiped a pair of bags, giving him 32 this season. He now sits four shy of tying the program’s single-season record of 36 stolen bases, currently held by Brock Hebert.

Rhett Rosevear was hit by a pitch for the 23rd time this season and the 75th time in his Lion career. He is now one away from tying Josh Cryer’s program record for career HBPs.

Southeastern wraps up the regular season with a three-game conference series at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field against Northwestern State. Games are scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.

Friday’s contest features postgame fireworks and $5 general admission tickets. Saturday’s series finale is Senior Day and fans can also play baseball bingo during the game.

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