Stellar defense backs Lions in extra-inning win over Lamar

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BEAUMONT, Texas – Backed by several superb defensive plays, Southeastern Louisiana outlasted Lamar, 4-3, in 13 innings Friday in the opening game of a Southland Conference series at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

Southeastern (26-20, 15-7 Southland) maintains a hold on first place in the conference standings with the win over the Cardinals (15-30, 7-18 Southland). The Lions pull one-half game ahead of idle Sam Houston State (24-18, 14-7 Southland).

Lamar wiped out an early Lion lead with single runs in the second and third innings, but Southeastern regained the lead in the sixth.

Preston Faulkner and Kyle Schimpf worked back-to-back walks leading off the inning against Cardinals’ starting pitcher Noah Sills. Trey Harrington sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Nathan Pilutti followed with an RBI single up the middle, plating Faulkner to tie the game. Schimpf scored on Brennan Breaud’s comebacker to the mound. Sills attempted to turn a double play, instead of throwing home to get Schimpf, but Breaud beat the relay throw to first base.

The Cardinals tied up the game in the seventh on a leadoff home run to right field by designated hitter Cole Coker. A solo shot, it was Coker’s fourth of the season.

Reliever Grant Upton retired the side in the eighth, marking the first time Lion pitching sat Lamar down in order in the game. Upton surrendered a leadoff single to Cardinals’ right fielder Avery George in the ninth but got center fielder Cole Girouard to pop up a sacrifice bunt attempt. Reliever Payton Robinson then picked George off first, catching him in an attempt to steal second base, and got Coker to fly out to end the inning.

In the 11th, Anthony Quirion singled to open up the inning off Kade Granier. After he was sacrificed to second, Quirion attempted to score on Rhett McCall’s single to right field. Nathan Pilutti, who had already thrown out Quirion attempting to stretch a single into a double in the second inning, fired a strike to the plate in plenty of time to prevent Quirion from scoring the potential winning run.

After Granier issued an intentional walk to George, who finished the night 5-for-5 at the plate, Girouard ripped a sinking liner to center off reliever Jared Biddy (1-2). Lion center fielder Bryce Steckler dove for the ball, hauling it in before rolling over the top of it. A delayed call from the first base umpire ruled Steckler’s play an inning-ending catch, preventing a second potential winning run from scoring.

Both teams went up and down in order in the 12th.

Lamar reliever Dylan Johnson (0-4) issued a leadoff walk to Cody Grosse in the 13th and Faulkner followed with a hit-and-run double into the gap in left-center field, driving in Grosse from first.

In the bottom half of the inning, Biddy also issued a leadoff walk. Quirion followed with a single, but Biddy got left fielder Reese Durand to strike out while attempting to lay down a sacrifice bunt. After a groundout advanced both runners into scoring position, Biddy walked George on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. The right-hander then struck out Girouard with the bases loaded to end the game.

Biddy earned the win, working 2.1 scoreless innings to close it out. Johnson suffered the loss, allowing one run in five innings of relief work.

George (5-for-5), Quirion (4-for-6) and JC Correa (2-for-6) each picked up multiple hits for Lamar as the Cardinals cranked 16 total hits in the game. Faulker (2-for-5) and Pilutti (2-for-6) led the Lions at the plate.

With five innings pitched, Corey Gaconi (280) passed Kyle Cedotal (2013-16) into seventh place on the Lions’ career innings pitched list. Gaconi also tied Jody Fife (1989-92) and Steve Trosclair (1998-02) for eighth all-time at Southeastern with the 40th start of his career.

Granier’s appearance was the 76th of his career, tying him with Mike Lutgring (1988-92) and Jason Greenleaf (2011-14) for fourth on the Lions’ career list.

The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. Southeastern senior right-hander Mason Knopp (6-1, 2.65) will oppose Cardinal senior southpaw Jason Blanchard (4-3, 2.66). The middle game of the series can be heard in the Hammond 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.

A free video stream, provided by Lamar, is available on Facebook Watch. 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.

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.

LINESCORE
Southeastern 4, Lamar 3
————————————————————————————————
Southeastern….. 010 002 000 000 1 – 4 8 0 (26-20, 15-7 SLC)
Lamar…………….. 011 000 100 000 0 – 3 16 0 (15-30, 7-18 SLC)
————————————————————————————————
Pitchers: Southeastern – Gaconi, Corey; Tassin, Bryce (6); Upton, Grant (8); Robinson, Payton (9); Granier, Kade (10); Biddy, Jared (11) and Manola, Connor. Lamar – Sills, Noah; Johnson, Dylan (9) and McCall, Rhett.

Win-Biddy, Jared(1-2) Loss-Johnson, Dylan(0-4) T-3:34 A-612
HR LU – Coker, Cole (4).
Weather: Overcast, 79, Wind SSE 10 MPH

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