April 3, 2014
BEAUMONT – Early in the 1973 season, Jim Gilligan’s first as head coach for the Lamar baseball team, the Cardinals made the long trek for what became their last Southland conference series with Abilene Christian. That all changes this weekend as Gilligan is once again set to take his team to the Key City to renew the long-dormant conference rivalry.
The series, fittingly enough, comes at a key time for the Cardinals (15-14, 2-7 Southland) as they look to get back into contention for next month’s Southland Tournament. After a strong non-conference slate, things haven’t gone as well in league play, and LU will be aiming for its first series victory of the season after falling to Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls and McNeese State. The Red and White are currently two games out of the eighth and final spot in the tournament field.
Despite the losses, the Cards have been close in nearly every game that they’ve played this season, and last weekend’s series with McNeese was no different as the three games were decided by a grand total of four runs. In fact, all but one conference game this season has been decided by two or fewer runs and two were settled in extra innings.
Fresh off of earning national honors from both Collegiate Baseball and NCAA.com, Sam Bumpers will look to continue his hot conference form. Since a 4-for-6 showing in the opener, the Bourbonnais, Ill., native has been on fire and enters the weekend with a .548 average in league play. Last weekend, Bumpers went 7-for-7 with three homers in the first game and finished the series 12-for-16 with four homers and seven runs batted in.
Mason Salazar has also been strong in conference season, highlighted by a 4-for-4 day vs. McNeese, and he’s currently hitting .435 with three doubles over eight games. Jude Vidrine, who leads the league in walks with 26, holds an impressive on-base percentage of .488 in conference games. Kevin Santana, who up until last week was LU’s top hitter, is aiming to get back on track after a bit of a cold start to conference season.
is set to make his eighth start of the year on Friday night, and he’s hoping to repeat the heroics of his last away start in league play, which was at Southeastern Louisiana to open the season. The Friendswood native pitched into the ninth inning, which was the longest of his career. He allowed just three runs in the outing, but was pegged with a no decision as the game went into extra innings. The 6-foot-7 right-hander is 2-1 on the year with a 2.92 earned run average over 40 innings of work.
Chase Angelle will get the start on Saturday. A native of Orange, the 6-foot southpaw saw his season-opening streak of six consecutive quality starts get snapped last week vs. McNeese. Despite his 1-4 record, Angelle has been solid on the mound with a 3.26 ERA over 47 innings.
David Carver will start on Sunday. He’s 0-1 this year with a 4.35 ERA and six strikeouts over 10.1 frames.
ACU enters the weekend with a 12-13 record and a 2-1 league mark after taking two out of three from fellow newcomer Incarnate Word last weekend. LU is 10-5 all-time vs. the Wildcats, last dropping two out of three in Abilene in 1973. The last series win for the Cards came under the direction of Bill Vincent in 1971 as LU out-scored ACU 23-2 over a three-game set in Abilene.
First pitch on Friday night is set for 6 p.m.