Wildcats hit two grand slams, run-rule Houston-Victoria at RRAC baseball tourney

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STERLINGTON, La. – The big bats continued to sing as the Louisiana Christian University baseball team hit three more home runs, two of which were grand slams, during their Red River Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Houston-Victoria.

The Wildcats run-ruled the Jaguars 18-8 in seven innings Saturday night at the Sterlington Sports Complex, moving one win away from the tournament final.

The Wildcats jumped all over the UHV starting pitcher right out of the gate. Adrian Aguilar was hit by the game’s first pitch, and on the game’s second pitch, Alex Ashby found the right-center gap for a double that moved Aguilar to third. After Keelyn Johnson was intentionally walked to load the bases, Ju’Juan Franklin drove a base hit through the left side of the infield to score Aguilar and give the Wildcats the lead for good. Coming off a three-home run performance a day before, Peyton Lamartiniere added to that total as he hit the game’s first grand slam to push the Wildcat lead out to 5-0 in just five batters. Now with two outs, Jacob Fowler and Ty Morgan both beat out infield singles to keep the inning alive long enough for Adrian Aguilar to come back up and drop a base hit into right field, scoring both Fowler and pinch runner Dylan David to make the score 7-0 when the first inning ended

After stranding runners on the corners in the bottom of the first inning, LCU put up another crooked number in the second inning to extend the lead out to double digits. Ju’Juan Franklin reached on an error to start the inning, and then with one out, Haydon Helms drew a walk to bring up Nick Brunet. Brunet got into the home run party, launching a pitch over the left-center fence for a three-run shot to make it 10-0 Wildcats after just two innings.

But things started to get a little silent for the Wildcats and Houston-Victoria tried to mount a rally. The Jaguars tallied a run in the third, then two more in the fourth to cut the LCU lead down to 10-3. A little order was restored in the top of the fifth as Alex Ashby hit a double down the left field line with one out, only to be immediately followed by Keelyn Johnson who knocked him in with a RBI base hit to left. However, the Jaguars continued creep closer in the bottom of the fifth, plating two more runs to make the score 11-5 Wildcats.

Order was fully restored in the sixth as the big bat showed up again. Haydon Helms led off the inning by drawing a walk before Nick Brunet was hit by a pitch. Jacob Fowler followed that with a base hit to left, allowing Helms to score. After Ty Morgan was also plunked, Alex Ashby came up with one out and made sure any thoughts of a UHV comeback were dismissed as he blasted a no-doubt shot to straight-away center for the team’s second grand slam of the night which put LCU up 16-5.

Now facing the ten-run rule, the Jaguars tried to rally by loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame before a double cleared the bags and made it 16-8.

Looking for the two runs to get the score back into run-rule territory, both pinch hitters in the top of the seventh came through for the Wildcats. Nicolas Ramos was given the bat to start the frame and he worked a walk. Then, with one out, Dylan David got a shot at the plate, and he came through with a single to right, moving up to second as the throw went to third in an attempt to get Ramos. That heads up base running paid immediate dividends as Ty Morgan followed David and hit a sinking liner that fell in front of the UHV center fielder which allowed both Ramos and David to score to make it a 10-run game again at 18-8. UHV would load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, looking to force home a run to keep the game alive, but Chase Gardner caught the final batter napping for a called strike three to end the game and push the Wildcats on through the winner’s bracket.

Alex Ashby had himself a day at the plate, going three-for-five with two doubles and the grand slam, his tenth home run of the season and third of the RRAC Tournament, which accounted for all four of his RBI. He also scored all three times he reached base safely. Ty Morgan went three-for-four with two RBI and was hit by a pitch. Dylan David, who served as Morgan’s courtesy runner throughout most of the game, went one-for-one at the plate and scored three times. Jacob Fowler went two-for-four with a RBI and two runs scored. Adrian Aguilar, Ju’Juan Franklin, and Peyton Lamartiniere were all two-for-five at the plate in the contest. Lamartiniere’s first inning grand slam was his sixth home run of the season and fourth of the RRAC Tournament while also accounting for all four of Lamartiniere’s RBI in the game as well as his lone run scored. Aguilar was also hit by a pitch, drove in two runs and scored once. Franklin knocked in a run and scored twice. Keelyn Johnson went one-for three and walked twice, once intentionally, knocked in a run and scored once. Nick Brunet went one-for-three, that one being his second home run of the season which also accounted for all three of his RBI, was hit by pitch twice and scored twice. Five of LCU’s 18 base hits in the game went for extra bases and the Wildcats have hit ten home runs in two games in the RRAC Tournament.

Dylan Coburn (3-0) filled the time he was asked to fill by the coaching staff, throwing the first two innings and allowed no hits and no runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Rett Bowman went 1.1 innings and allowed two hits and three runs, just one earned, walked one and struck out one. Blake Windham also went 1.1 innings and allowed four hits and two runs, both earned, walked one and didn’t strike out any batters. Branon Pope went two-third of an inning and allowed four hits and three runs, all earned, all earned, with one walk and one strikeout. Chase Gardner finished off the final 1.2 innings and gave up no hits and no runs but three walks and three strikeouts.

The Wildcats (32-15) are now one win away from making the RRAC Tournament Finals in the team’s first season in the conference. To go straight into that Final, they will have to go through their in-Parish rival, (RV) LSU Alexandria who also moved to 2-0 in the tournament with a Saturday evening win, on Sunday. First pitch of Sunday’s semifinal game against the (RV) Generals (31-14) is set for 6:00 P.M. at the Sterlington Sports Complex.

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