March 18, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas -
Lamar's pitching staff surrendered only two runs on eight hits, as the Cardinals rallied for a 4-2 victory over No. 21 Houston Tuesday evening at Cougar Field. Lamar improved to 14-8 with the victory, while handing the Cougars only their fourth loss of the season (15-4).
The Cardinals picked up the win despite not having skipper Jim Gilligan in the dugout. Lamar's skipper, in his 37th season, was under the weather and did not make the trip to Houston.
It is a scene that Cardinals' fans have become used to over the past couple of seasons as Lamar posted a 6-3 win over then No. 19 Houston at Vincent-Beck Stadium last season. The three-run decision over the Cougars also marked the last time Lamar defeated an opponent ranked in the top 25.
The Cougars did all their damage in the bottom half of the fourth inning, but the LU pitching staff was able to hold Houston at bay until the Cardinals could rally. Senior Lance Warren (2-0) pitched 2.1 innings in relief striking out three to pick up the victory, while junior Danny Fernandez pitched a scoreless ninth to record his third save of the season.
"This was a great win," said head coach Jim Gilligan who listened to the game from his home. "Our kids did a great job tonight. We intended on using several kids on the mound, as we normally do in midweek games. I thought (Jim) Ricklefsen did a good job and had a well-put together game plan."
The Cardinals got run producing hits from Sam Bumpers, Kevin Santana, Jacoby Middleton, Tyler Sullivan and Reed Seeley. Seven different Cardinals scratched out hits, including Brandon Provost's 2-for-4 effort.
Houston dented the scoreboard first scoring two runs in the home half of the fourth. After loading the bases with only one out, Houston's Ashford Fulmer singled to left field driving in Caleb Barker. The very next batter recorded a sacrifice fly to center driving in the second run of the night.
The two-run lead would hold until the top of the sixth when Lamar scored its first run of the game. Bumpers doubled to right center scoring Justin Eckols from first, after being hit by a pitch. It was Lamar's only run of the inning but the Cards made quick work of Houston in the bottom of the sixth getting out of the inning after surrendering only one hit.
Lamar was back on the offensive in the top of the seventh with runners at second and third with no outs following a Middleton double. With one out in the inning, LU tied the game when Sullivan singled to right center to plate Santana. Lamar took a 3-2 lead following a failed pick off attempt. Houston's Andrew Lantrip compounded the situation by setting up Lamar's next score with a wild pitch. Seeley made Houston pay for the mistake when he followed up the wild pitch with a double to left centerfield.
After taking the lead, Lamar put the game in the hands of its pitching staff who slammed the door shut. The Cardinals surrendered only one hit in the final three innings to pick up the win.
"Our guys were faced with a little bit of adversity today, but they did a great job of just focusing on the task at hand," said associate head coach Jim Ricklefsen. "I got a call from Gilligan today saying that the doctors told him to stay home. We just stayed with the routine and our guys responded well.
"We gave up a couple of runs in the fourth, but our staff did a great job of keeping us in the game until our offense could get going. I though Lance Warren did an outstanding job tonight. Houston had a lot of lefties in the lineup, but Lance shut them down," added Ricklefsen.
Lamar returns to Southland Conference action Friday when they return home to host Nicholls. The game against the Colonels is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. from Vincent-Beck Stadium.