March 8, 2012
CONWAY, Ark. - Lamar University's baseball team enters its 2012 Southland Conference-opening series against the University of Central Arkansas with a changed schedule and, hopefully, changed offensive and defensive efforts than it exhibited in Wednesday night's 8-1 loss at Louisiana Tech.
Because of expected inclement weather in the Coway area this weekend the teams have opted to open with a 3 p.m. doubleheader Friday at 1000-seat Bear Stadium, and with weather permitting, to play a 1 p.m. single game on Saturday. That reflects a change over the originally-planned Friday night opener and single games on Saturday and Sunday.
The Cardinals, who fell to 4-7 on the season with the loss to Louisiana Tech, were picked fifth in the conference's preseason sports information directors' poll and sixth in the preseason coaches' poll. Central Arkansas, which improved to 5-6 on the season after notching a 12-7 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday night, was picked last in the 12-team league in both polls.
Defending league champion Texas State, which is off to a fine 9-3 start and is ranked 21st in the nation this week, was the overwhelming No. 1 vote-getter in both polls.
After defeating then 25th-ranked Baylor twice last weekend, the Cardinals managed only three hits - two by third baseman Darian Johnson - and their pitching and defense were suspect in Wednesday night's loss to Louisiana Tech.
Lamar owns a 9-6 edge over Central Arkansas in the all-time series between the schools. Last year - also in Conway - the Cardinals won two of three games over the Bears, taking the series' bookends by the scores of 7-1 and 15-5 and dropping the middle game 8-7.
Central Arkansas enters the weekend series tied with UTSA for the SLC hitting lead with a team batting average of .293. Lamar ranks sixth with a .265 mark.
Coach Allen Gunn's Bears boast an impressive team earned run average of 3.45, while coach Jim Gilligan's Cardinals have a team ERA of 5.60.
Gilligan plans to go with a starting pitching rotation of left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic
in Game 1, right-hander Eric Harrington
in Game 2 and right-hander Shane Hamaker
in Game 3.
Through 21 innings of work in three starts this spring, Dziedzic, a junior from Humble Atascocita, is yet to allow an earned run. He is 2-0, and he has walked eight batters and struck out 13. After he hurled a six-hit shutout of then 25th-ranked Baylor last weekend, he was voted the SLC Pitcher of the Week.
Harrington, a junior from Port Neches-Groves, is 0-2 in the early going, and he has a 6.75 ERA. He has surrendered 26 hits, walked five and struck out eight in 17 1/3 innings.
Hamaker, a senior from Pasadena Memorial, is 1-1 and also has a 6.75 ERA. He has given up 12 hits and walked six and struck out seven in 10 2/3 innings.
The Bears are expected to go with a pitching rotation of right-hander Caleb McClanahan, left-hander Jefferey Enloe and righty Ryan Angus. McClanahan is 1-0 and has a 2.24 ERA; Enloe is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA, and Angus is 1-1 with a 6.89
With a .462 batting average, Central Arkansas right fielder and leadoff hitter Forrest Allday is second to UTSA's Riley Good (.510) in the SLC in hitting. Lamar left fielder Jeff Abt is seventh on the list with a .371 average.