May 28, 2010
McNeese State Semi-Final Photo Gallery
CORPUS CHRISTI - A third-successive, superb pitching performance propelled Lamar University into the championship game of the 2010 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Friday.
Jonathan Dziedzic and Cory Holley combined on a five-hit, 11-strikeout gem as the Cardinals defeated McNeese State 9-3 to advance to Saturday night's tournament finale. They will oppose either Texas State or UT Arlington in the 6 p.m. contest that will earn the winner the SLC's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Texas State, the regular-season league champion, must beat UTA Friday and again in an early game Saturday to make the finale, while the fifth-seeded Mavs need only to win once.
Dziedzic, a freshman left-hander from Humble Atascocita, worked the first seven innings and improved his record at 5-5. He scattered five hits and struck out 10 batters to climb into a tie with former Cardinal Mike Pasqualicchio for the fourth-most, one-season strikeouts with 106.
Holley, a senior from Houston Waltrip, replaced Dziedzic after the freshman's 131st pitch on the day sent the count to 2-0 on Cowboy leadoff batter Lee Orr in the eighth inning.
Holley proceeded to blow three-straight strikes past Orr, and he went on to pitch two hitless, scoreless innings. The only baserunner he allowed was Blake Ellender on a fielding error by sophomore shortstop Aaron Buchanan to lead off the ninth inning.
"Dziedzic started poorly, but he fixed things in a hurry," said coach Jim Gilligan, who has guided the No. 7 seed Cardinals into the SLC Tournament championship game for the first time since 2008. "He started losing it again later, but he regrouped again in a hurry, and that was a big key for us."
Dziedzic loaded the bases in the first on two bases on balls (one intentional) and a hit batsman, but he got out of the jam by striking out designated hitter Seth Granger to end the inning.
Dziedzic faltered slightly in the third when he issued back-to-back walks to Ellender and Andy Riche to open the inning and wound up yielding all three of McNeese's runs.
After ending that uprising with a grounder back to the mound by Bryn Thompson, Dziedzic went on to retire nine of the next 10 batters he faced.
"Dziedzic getting it together again was a big key for us," said Gilligan. "He eventually ran out of gas, and I went out and got him. Holley came in and did a great job, though. He kept them (the Cowboys) off-balanced the rest of the way."
The Cardinal hitters also got the Cowboys off-balanced early with a four-run first inning highlighted run-scoring singles by Quentin Luquette and Wade Mathis and a two-run homer by Anthony Moore that sailed well beyond the 375-foot marker in right field.
The Cardinals, who improved to 34-24 on the season, reached double figures in hits for the 13th-straight game by smashing out 14, including two each by Moore, Buchanan, Andy Mena and Joey Latulippe.
Moore eventually got ejected from the game by umpire Asa Howard for failing to slide as he attempted to score from second base on a single to short right field by Latulippe in the third inning.
"I'm glad A-Mo hit that big home run before he decided to get thrown out," quipped Gilligan. "We also had good days at the plate from Buck (Buchanan), Mena and Latulippe, and Ted Zentek and V.J. Bunner both looked good at the plate and in the field. It also looks like Ryan Meade is starting to swing the bat a lot better."