May 18, 2012
SAN ANTONIO - Lamar University's hopes for a spot in the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament came to a heart-wrenching end Friday evening at Roadrunner Field as the Cardinals let a five run lead slip away in the ninth with host UTSA pulling out a 16-15 win in 10 innings.
The Cardinals had to sweep the three-game series with UTSA in order to have a chance at one of the eight berths in next week's league tournament. Instead, Lamar fell to 21-30 overall and 13-19 in conference games to miss the Southland Tournament for the first time since the 2000 season.
After trailing 6-0 in the second inning, Lamar roared all the way back as it posted season highs of 15 runs and 22 hits to carry a 15-10 lead into the ninth inning. Saturday's projected starter Eric Harrington had come in to pitch for the Cardinals in the seventh inning in the must win situation.
Harrington, who took the loss to fall to 3-9 on the season, was one strike away from closing the win when UTSA third baseman Ryan Dalton blasted a three-run home run over the left field wall to tie the game at 15 and force extra innings.
After the Cardinals stranded second baseman V.J. Bunner at third in the top of the 10th inning, UTSA completed its late game comeback in the bottom half of the inning. Harrington got the first two batters out in the 10th before R.J. Perucki reached on a fielding error by shortstop Aaron Olivas.
Perucki advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored the unearned final run on a RBI single up the middle by catcher Colby Braddock. It was the only RBI on the day for Braddock who led the Roadrunners with four of their 17 hits.
The Cardinals' fifth pitcher of the game, Harrington worked the final 3.2 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. The redshirt junior also committed a pair of wild pitches.
Trailing 6-0 through two innings, the Cards cut the UTSA lead in half with three runs in the third inning. Right fielder Jude Vidrine
reached on an error at second base and Jeff Abt
followed with a walk. Both runners then came home on a two-run triple to center field by third baseman Darian Johnson
. Johnson had his second four-hit game as a Cardinal, adding three runs scored on the night.
First baseman Brad Picha, who went 3-for-6 with a pair of RBI, then doubled to left to score Johnson.
Lamar would grab a 7-6 lead with a four-run fourth inning to chase UTSA starter Jordan Pacheco from the game. With Bunner and Olivas on base, Vidrine homered for the fifth time this season to tie the game at 6-6. Designated hitter Seth Dornak provided a single to right center with two outs to plate Johnson with the go ahead run.
The game went back and forth from there with UTSA reclaiming an 8-7 lead in the fifth only to see the Cardinals score twice in the top of the sixth to pull ahead 9-8. The Roadrunners answered with two in the bottom of the sixth to go up 10-9 before Lamar tied the game at 10 with a run in the seventh.
Lamar looked to be in good shape after scoring four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth to build a 15-10 lead. Picha drove in the first run of the eighth with his second double of the game and would later score on a fielding error by Casey Selsor in right field.
Bunner would add a RBI single to left, and the final run of the eighth was scored as Vidrine was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Vidrine finished the game with two hits, three runs and four RBI.
Johnson led off the ninth with a triple to center field and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Dornak. Johnson, Dornak and Picha each drove in two runs for the Cardinals.
UTSA left fielder John Welborn, who hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning, accounted for the Roadrunners' first two runs in the ninth as he singled to left to score Braddock and Perucki.
Justin Graham got the win in relief for UTSA to improve to 1-0. Graham pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs and two hits with one strikeout.
The two teams will close the regular season Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.