March 26, 2013
BEAUMONT – V.J. Bunner fired the opening salvo on Tuesday night, belting a first-inning home run off the left field foul pole, and the Lamar baseball team never looked back as it cruised to a 6-3 victory over 19th-ranked Houston at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
“I was looking for a fastball, and luckily, I was able to put the barrel on it and hit it out,” Bunner said. “It’s always a good feeling to win a game before going to play a team like Central Arkansas this weekend. We know they’re a good team, so it’s nice to get a win tonight and go up there with some momentum.”
Bunner went 1-for-3 before leaving the game in the fifth inning.
The win brought Houston’s 10-game winning streak to an end and marked the first victory over a ranked opponent for Lamar since a 5-4 decision over No. 7 Rice last year.
Other standout performers included Zach Luevanos, Brad Picha and Jude Vidrine, who each put together two-hit showings. As a team, LU out-hit UH 8-4.
Pitching was the strong point for much of the night as the quartet of Tom Elsom, Lance Warren, Ben Coram and J.T. Autrey carried a two-hit shutout into the ninth. Elsom earned his first career victory in the outing, allowing both hits over 2.1 frames with a pair of strikeouts. The other three didn’t allow a single base-runner over the ensuing 5.2 innings.
“It was a very encouraging night for our pitching staff,” head coach Jim Gilligan said. “We didn’t get some good outings this past weekend, so to see these guys go out and perform against a good ball club was good sign for our depth. It was a good night tonight.”
Lamar (21-6) added another tally in the fifth with Andrew Dewey
drawing a lead-off walk and later scoring on a Sam Bumpers
single up the middle.
Dewey ended with a score and a run batted in, and Bumpers was 1-for-4.
The Cards opened up the game an inning later, capitalizing on three Cougar errors to en route to a four-run frame to take control.
Houston (21-5) finally broke through in the ninth, scoring three runs on a pair of hits before Jayson McKinley made the short trot from the bullpen to earn his first career save.
After playing 23 of the first 27 games of the season within the friendly confines of Vincent-Beck Stadium, the Cards will hit the road over the next two weekends, traveling to Central Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana. The UCA series will begin on Thursday night in Conway, and first pitch is set for 6 p.m.