March 29, 2014
BEAUMONT - Despite being a baseball program steeped in history, fans at Vincent-Beck Stadium on Friday and Saturday witnessed an all-time offensive performance by Sam Bumpers as Lamar split the opening two games of a Southland Conference series vs. McNeese State.
Bumpers, a senior out of Bourbonnais, Ill., led off Friday's opener with a home run, and that proved to be a warning for what was to come as he doubled in his next at-bat and homered in the third before the game was suspended due to weather. When it started back up in the bottom of the fifth on Saturday, Bumpers went yard once more. He went on to finish the game 7-for-7 with three runs and five runs batted in, leading LU to an 11-inning 8-7 victory.
"That was easily the best game that I've ever played in my life," Bumpers said. "It was just a good day, and I can't really explain it. I'd never hit two home runs in a game, let alone three. It was like video game stuff, and it was pretty awesome to do it and get the win. That's the best part."
The seven hits was the most in school history, supplanting Bobby Bradshaw's six-hit game vs. UT Arlington in 1975. The three homers tied the school record, which was last matched by David Moore in 2008.
Bumpers followed up in the day's second game with a 3-for-5 day with another homer and two scores, but unfortunately for the Cards, they came out on the losing end of another 8-7 scoreline.
After a slower start than expected to the season, the Iowa Western College transfer has started to catch fire in the last few weeks, beginning with a 4-for-6 showing at Southeastern Louisiana earlier this month.
"I was a little hurt earlier in the year and I think I tried to rush back into a bit," revealed Bumpers. "I had to go back to the drawing board and refocus myself. I think I'm getting a little more confidence in myself every game, and I'm getting back to having fun again."
was also perfect at the plate in the first game, going 4-for-4 and scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th on a Reed Seeley
single through the right side.
As a team, LU (15-13, 2-6 Southland) picked up 20 hits to McNeese's 14 and had five Cards register multiple hits.
Following Bumpers lead-off shot on Friday, McNeese (15-10, 5-3 Southland) outscored the Red and White 4-1 over the ensuing two frames before the second Bumpers homer and a Markum single tied things back up in the fourth.
However, the Cowboys pushed three runs across in the fifth before the game's suspension. It would be a different story on Saturday as J.T. Autrey held the visitors from Lake Charles to just five baserunners in six innings of work, ultimately picking up his third victory of the season.
Bumpers' two-run blast brought LU within one, and the score would stay as such until the ninth. A trio of singles by Brandon Provost, Jacoby Middleton and Salazar loaded the bases for Justin Eckols, who hit a sacrifice fly to force extra innings.
Salazar picked up another single in the 11th, and a two-out Bumpers single put him in scoring position. Seeley answered the call on a 1-2 pitch to bring the game to an end.
A Jude Vidrine two-run double and Markum two-run homer keyed a five-run third for the Cards in the second game of the series, but McNeese answered with eight runs over the next five frames to grab an 8-6 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. A Salazar RBI groundout brought the Red and White within one heading into the ninth.
Vidrine was one of three Cards to record multiple hits as the Cards out-hit McNeese once more, this time 11-10. Seeley was 3-for-5.
Bumpers led off the ninth with a single, and another single and an error loaded the bases with two outs for Provost. Tyler West narrowly missed beating a force out at second base, which brought the game to an end.
Three Cards saw time on the mound, beginning with Chase Angelle who saw his run of six consecutive quality starts come to an end. The Orange native surrendered seven runs (four earned) on six hits in 6.1 innings of work. He dropped to 1-4 on the year.
McNeese and LU will now play a rubber game on Sunday as the Cards look for their first conference series win of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.