Feb. 15, 2013
BEAUMONT – It was as outstanding a debut as one could hope to expect on Friday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium as junior college transfer Sam Bumpers hit a bases-loaded line drive to left field to plate two and give the Lamar baseball team a 7-6 victory over Northern Kentucky in the 2013 season opener.
Bumpers, who helped lead Iowa Western to a national championship a season ago, was actually involved in a pair of late rallies, scoring what looked to be the game-winner in the eighth before a ninth inning comeback by the Norse. The Bourbonnais, Ill., native finished the game 3-for-4 with four runs batted in, a walk and a run scored.
“I came in wanting to get some hits tonight, and people just happened to be on base when I did,” Bumpers said. “I just did my job. I was just trying to get one run in and not hit into a double play, and I was able to get two. The outfield was shifted to the right, and as soon as I hit it, I knew we’d won. It’s a good feeling.”
He was not alone in the gaudy statistic category as Jude Vidrine ended the day a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk and three scores, including the equalizer in the ninth.
Vidrine started the frame off with a single to left, and back-to-back errors by Logan Spurlin loaded the bases for Bumpers’ dramatic moment. Spurlin had entered the game for Barrett Arnold, who scored the go-ahead run for NKU in the top of the frame. Barrett was a pinch-runner for starting catcher Pat Hyde.
Both Brad Picha and Seth Dornak also had multiple hits for the Cardinalss. Each went 2-for-4 with a run scored. As a team, LU out-hit the Norse 12-7.
On the mound, Jonathan Dziedzic was lights out for most of his evening, furthering his legacy in the Lamar record books by striking out 10 in six innings of work. The showing was the fifth time that the southpaw from Humble had racked up double-digit K’s, and he now sits at fifth all-time in the LU record books with 222 career strikeouts. He walked just one in the game and finished with four hits allowed and three earned runs.
“I felt good tonight, but I’m still a long ways away from where I need to be,” Dziedzic said. “I have to get a lot better. I threw too many balls, so I need to work on my location more. I think I came out a little stiff in the seventh inning after that long sixth.”
Unfortunately for Dziedzic, he was pegged with the no-decision. Travis Moore, David Carver and Ben Coram each allowed a run in an inning of work.
Coram was credited with the win, and NKU reliever Brett Loeding picked up the loss.
Picha and Dornak got things started for the Cards in the second inning. Picha, an All-Southland preseason selection, singled through the right side, and Dornak followed up with a double to center to put two runs in scoring position. A Vidrine sacrifice fly to left pushed the first score across, but moments later, Dornak couldn’t beat the throw home when V.J. Bunner hit into a fielder’s choice.
As they would do for much of the night, Northern Kentucky answered. In the top of the fourth, Brad Clement unloaded a deep homer to right to tie things up. Dziedzic responded forcefully, fanning the ensuing two hitters to curtail the damage.
Bumpers made his first impression on the game in the bottom half of the inning, stepping to the plate with both Dornak and Vidrine in scoring position and cashing in with a single to left to put the Red and White back on top, 4-2.
After NKU reclaimed a run in the fifth, LU took advantage of reliever Cody Cooper’s inaccuracy on the mound. Vidrine and Bunner earned back-to-back one-out walks, and Bumpers was once again involved, picking up a two-out walk to load the bases and chase Cooper from the mound. Alex Bolia made the trot down from the bullpen and almost immediately tossed a wild pitch to allow one run to cross. He ended the threat two batters later, inducing a pop fly.
The Norse answer was swift, plating two in the top of the seventh as Ryan Hinz, led off with a single to send Dziedzic to the dugout. Moore entered the game for LU, and the duo of Josh Myers and Pat Hyde doubled and singled, respectively, to pull within one. Quint Heady grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring home the second score and even things up at 4-4.
Bumpers opened up the eighth with a single, and Dewey played the role of would-be hero by recording his first career triple with a shot to left center.
Hinz led off the ninth with a walk, bringing Coram out to the mound to replace Carver. Following another walk, Bradley Vanderglas picked up a triple of his own to score two and set the stage for bottom of the ninth.
The Cardinals and the Norse will return to Vincent-Beck on Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader. The first game is set to begin at 1 p.m. with the second immediately following.