March 6, 2010
BEAUMONT - Just when Lamar University's baseball team appeared on the verge of putting together a second-straight stingy pitching performance Saturday, things turned sour on the Cardinals.
About three hours after Matison Smith hurled Lamar's first shutout of the season in a 4-0 defeat of Penn State, Blake Ford carried a 4-1 lead to mound for the sixth inning of the Cardinals' subsequent game against McNeese State on Day 4 of the 2010 YMBL/Cardinal Classic.
That's when things took a dramatic turn. The visiting Cowboys erupted for 11 sixth-inning runs on 11 hits and went on to take a 12-9 victory over the Cardinals.
After holding the Cowboys to only two first-inning hits over the first five innings, Ford failed to record an out in the decisive sixth and wound up absorbing his first loss of the season.
Andy Riche' beat out an infield single to start the winning rally, and the Cowboys strung together six more consecutive hits before Jordan Venable struck out for the inning's first out. Three relief pitchers - Jake Henderson, Tommy Roebuck and Brandon Chambers -- followed Ford to the mound before the fatal sixth finally and mercifully ended.
Rightfielder Lee Orr, who had a three-run double in the sixth, paced the Cowboys' 15-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with five runs batted in. First baseman Jace Peterson also had a 3-for-5 performance in helping the Cowboys even their record at 5-5.
In falling to 8-2, the Cardinals managed 11 hits, including a two-run double by Anthony Moore in the third inning and Pablo Salinas' solo home run in the fourth. The first four Cardinals to bat in the ninth inning hit safely, but the deficit was too great to overcome by then.
Smith's first collegiate shutout in the afternoon game was a pure gem. The senior right-hander shut down the Nittany Lions on four hits. He struck out six batters and walked three in lowering his season earned run average to a miniscule 0.41.
After the Nittany Lions' Heath Johnson and Jordan Steranka put together back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the first inning, Smith did not allow another hit until Johnson doubled down the leftfield line with one out in the sixth. Smith got out of that mini-jam then came through with his third, three-up and three-down inning in the seventh.
Penn State's Louie Picconi singled up the middle to lead off the eighth inning, but he was erased on a 6-4-3 double play. It was clear sailing for Smith in the ninth as he issued his third walk but also collected his final three strikeouts to complete the one hour, 53-minute game.
Smith's teammates gave him all of the run support he really needed in the first inning when they pushed across three runs against Penn State starter and loser Steven Hill. Moore drew a walk to lead off the inning; the Nittany Lions cooperated by committing two errors in the frame, and Quentin Luquette and Wade Mathis came through with RBI singles.
The Cardinals scored their final run in the seventh inning on back-to-back singles by Aaron Buchanan and Ryan Meade and a sacrifice fly by Luquette. Meade, Luquette and freshman shortstop Tyler Theriot contributed two hits each to the Cardinals' 11-hit attack.
Lamar and Penn State will complete the four-day tournament with a Sunday game, set for 1 p.m. in Vincent-Beck Stadium.