May 22, 2010
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BEAUMONT - Lamar University's baseball team will head into postseason play on a positive note.
Joe Latulippe helped see to that with four healthy swings of his bat Saturday afternoon before a sun-splashed crowd of 585 in Vincent-Beck Stadium. The junior catcher went 4-for-4 and drove in three runs as the Cardinals salvaged the finale of their regular-season-closing series with Stephen F. Austin University, 9-4.
Latulippe began his busy afternoon at the plate - as well as behind it - by contributing to the Cardinals' two-run second inning by singling into right field to advance teammate Ryan Meade to third base. Latulippe then singled down the left field line in the fourth inning to again move Meade to third base.
On his next trip to the plate in the fifth inning, Latulippe drove in Wade Mathis with a booming double to right field. Saving his best for last, Latulippe powered a two-run home run over the left field fence to cap the Cardinals' scoring for the day in the seventh inning.
The Cardinals' 31st victory in 55 games this season nailed down the seventh seed in this week's Southland Conference Tournament to be played at Corpus Christi's Whataburger Field. They will oppose Northwestern State in a noon first-round matchup on Wednesday.
Shortstop Aaron Buchanan, third baseman Pablo Salinas and Meade, the designated hitter, added two hits each to the Cardinals' 11-hit attack, and they left only seven runners on base this time after stranding a total of 28 in the series' first two games.
Meanwhile, right-hander Eric Harrington logged his third complete-game pitching performance of the season to up his record to 7-3. The sophomore from Port Neches-Groves limited the Lumberjacks to six hits, struck out six and walked two.
Catcher Jarid Scarafiotti hit a three-run home run off Harrington in the first inning, but the pitcher shook it off by responding with seven-consecutive scoreless innings. The only other run he yielded came on designated hitter Darren Crabtree's towering home run over the center field fence with one out in the ninth inning.
Latulippe's homer was his fourth of the season, while Scarafiotti's was his seventh and Crabtree's was his team-best 10th.
The Lumberjacks, who set a school record by winning 34 games during the regular season, will be the tournament's No. 4 seed. They will meet fifth-seeded UT Arlington in their first-round game, also on Wednesday.