March 2, 2014
BEAUMONT – J.T. Autrey isn’t used to starting games on the mound, but a casual observer could have been fooled on Sunday as both he and Brent Janak combined to lead the Lamar baseball team to a 7-0 victory over visiting Texas-Pan American at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
Autrey, LU’s leader in mound appearances last season, made his first career start and tossed four innings, giving up just two hits and four walks while striking out four. It marked the senior’s first victory of the year.
“Of course, it was great pitching conditions today with the winds howling, but Autrey and Janak did what they had to do out there,” head coach Jim Gilligan said. “J.T. is a guy that can be one of the best arms around, and it was good for him to get that many pitches in. His velocity was great, and he had more walks than I’d like, but that will improve with time.”
“I had a little nerves going because I’m used to coming out of the bullpen, obviously,” Autrey said. “I think that I started to settle in around the third inning, and it worked out. I’m pretty happy about it. Today gives me a lot of confidence, and if they need me to start again, I can do it. I have a lot of room to improve, but I’ll be alright.”
Janak, a freshman, spelled Autrey in relief and was even better, throwing five one-hit innings with five strikeouts to earn his first career save. The Friendswood High School graduate was one of three from the school to see significant time on the mound for Lamar over the past two days, joining Will Hibbs and Jayson McKinley.
“Janak went in and he just dealt,” Gilligan said. “I’m very pleased with what he did, and he’s only going to get better. It’s great to have freshman go out and have two wins and a save already. He’s a great kid, and I guess I better get over to Friendswood and get some pitchers because they’re representing pretty well. I’m very proud of him.”
It was the first shutout for LU this season, as the Cards upped their season record to 8-4. UTPA dropped to 6-6.
Reed Seeley got the Cards on the board in the second, leading off the frame with a single. A stolen base and Jacoby Middleton sacrifice bunt put him 90 feet from home, and Tyler Sullivan cashed the run in with a sacrifice fly to left.
Seeley finished the day 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and two scores.
The game remained tight over the ensuing two frames before the Cards broke through for three more runs in the fifth to take a commanding 4-0 advantage. UTPA starter Andrew Padron picked up the first two outs quickly before Mason Salazar reached on a single up the middle. An error and a Wayne Stanley double later brought him in, and Jude Vidrine followed up with a double of his own to push two more across.
Vidrine ended 2-for-3 with two runs batted in and a walk, and Stanley had a two-hit day as well, touching home twice.
A balk and a pair of UTPA errors scored three more for the Cards over the next two innings to account for the final score.
LU will return to action on Wednesday with the first road game of the year, traveling to Waco to take on Baylor. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.