April 27, 2012
BEAUMONT -Jonathan Dziedzic pitched a complete game Friday evening at Vincent-Beck Stadium, and Brad Picha drove in three runs, as Lamar University opened its three-game Southland Conference baseball series against McNeese State with a 4-1 victory.
Dziedzic was masterful in picking up his second straight conference win to improve to 4-2 on the season. The junior left hander allowed just one run on four hits in his nine innings of work, adding a season-high 10 strikeouts.
"Tonight you saw a great pitching duel between two really good pitchers," said LU head coach Jim Gilligan. "Jonathan pitched outstanding and was in complete control on the mound."
The two teams will continue their series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Lamar, which is fighting for one of the eight berths in the Southland Conference Tournament, improved to 17-23 on the year and 9-13 in league play. The Cowboys fell to 17-22 overall and 11-11 in the conference.
McNeese State's Blake Ware took the loss to fall to 5-5 after allowing four runs on eight hits over eight innings. Ware managed only one strikeout, but was pitching well until running in to trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Center fielder Garret Autrey led off the seventh with a single, and came home two batters later as Picha drilled the first of his two doubles to left center to plate the game's first run. Seth Dornak followed with a single to move Picha to third, and he would score to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead on a single by Jeff Abt.
After the Cowboys finally broke through in the top of the eighth inning with a run, Lamar answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame. Shortstop Aaron Olivas led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jude Vidrine.
After a ground out by Autrey, Darian Autrey was intentionally walked to give the Cowboys a force play at all three bases with two outs. However, Picha delivered in the clutch again with a double to left that scored both runners and gave Lamar a 4-1 lead.
"Picha had two really big hits for us tonight," said Gilligan about his first baseman's timely hitting. "He really came through big for us. I also liked what Olivas did for us tonight at the plate to help us get this win."
The Cowboys' lone run was driven in by catcher Matt Henry as he laid down a sacrifice bunt to Dziedzic that scored Trey Rickrode from third. Rickrode had led off the inning with a single to right field for his first base hit of the season.