May 13, 2011
BEAUMONT - Blake Ford pitched a complete game Friday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium, and Ted Zentek drove in five runs, as Lamar University picked up a 10-5 Southland Conference baseball victory over UT Arlington in a game the Cardinals could ill afford to lose.
Lamar entered the game in 10th place in the SLC standings with just two series left to play in the 2011 regular season. Needing to move into the top eight to qualify for this year's SLC Tournament, the Cardinals took down a Mavericks team that has now lost seven straight contests.
The win improved the Cards to 26-23 overall and 12-16 in SLC play, moving them to within a game of the visiting Mavs who fell to 25-25 on the year and 13-15 in the conference standings. The two teams will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. before closing the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"This was a big win and we really needed it," LU head coach Jim Gilligan said. "They are all big from this point on and we need to play as mistake free as possible for the rest of the year."
Ford, who improved to 6-3 on the year, gave up three runs to the Mavs over the first two innings. The senior right hander would settle down, scattering 12 hits over nine innings while striking out six. Only three of the Mavs' five runs were earned.
"Blake got off to a little bit of a slow start tonight," Gilligan said. "Once he got into a rhythm, though, he was fabulous out there tonight. Our defense was not always great behind him, but he got stronger as the game went on."
Lamar's offense found its way to home plate three times over the first two innings, as well, before the Cards opened the game up in the fourth inning. Senior shortstop Aaron Buchanan led off the inning with a single and then came home on a Zentek home run that cleared the left field wall to put LU ahead 5-3.
First baseman Wade Mathis
then reached on an error by UTA third baseman Brian Nephew and moved to third on a Jeff Abt
single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Catcher Joey Latulippe
singled to right to drive in Mathis and stake the Cards to a 6-3 lead. Pablo Salinas
would drive home Abt one batter later to give the Cards a 7-3 lead.
UTA starter Lance Day labored for just four innings, throwing 113 pitches in taking the loss and falling to 3-7. Day allowed 10 hits, seven runs, three of which were unearned, while striking out five.
After the Mavs made it a 7-5 game with a pair of runs in the sixth, Zentek once again struck for the Cards. With the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning, Abt laced a double down the left field line that found its way to the corner and drove in Lamar's final three runs.
"We had a lot of guys swing it good tonight at the plate," Gilligan said, "but Teddy really came through for us in those two at bats. When we hit like that, we can be a very dangerous team."
Zentek would finish with three of Lamar's 14 hits, including his first home run of the season and second of his career. Mathis and Abt each added two hits for the Cards, with Abt driving in two on the evening.
Nephew, who had his 15th double of the season, led the Mavs with three hits, while Jordan Vaughn added two hits and drove in two.