Cards and Owls ready for showdown

GO CARDINALS <b>Garret Autrey</b>
Garret Autrey

April 30, 2013

BEAUMONT – On the heels of eight consecutive victories, the Lamar baseball team will move on to another big test as the Cardinals set out for Reckling Park on the campus of Rice to take on the 18th-ranked Owls in the final non-conference game of the year.

Lamar, which is receiving votes in the USA Today baseball poll this week, is coming into the encounter with a 33-11 record after sweeping past Stephen F. Austin to climb atop the Southland Conference leaderboard. Revenge will also be in mind for the Cards after the Owls withstood a dramatic comeback to win 9-8 at Vincent-Beck Stadium earlier this season.

The Last Meeting
April 9, 2013
Vincent-Beck Stadium
Cards fall on late Rice score

BEAUMONT – Following an 72-minute lightning delay, the Lamar baseball team bounced back from an 8-1 deficit with seven straight scores, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough as a ninth-inning sacrifice fly secured an 9-8 win for 14th-ranked Rice at Vincent-Beck Stadium on Tuesday night.

After waiting out a 72-minute lightning delay, Lamar rallied for seven straight scores to tie the game up at 8-8 in the bottom of the seventh. However, the Owls came up with a ninth inning rally when Michael Aquino led off with a double, and a pair of deep fly balls allowed him to cross home plate.

Sam Bumpers, Brad Picha and Andrew Dewey made for a formidable trio on the meeting. Bumpers and Picha each had three-hit days with a pair of runs batted in, and Dewey picked up two hits and scored twice. LU actually out-hit the Owls 11-5 on the night.

Last season, the two schools split the season series with each team winning on the road. Lamar took its lumps in a 17-2 loss at home, but handed the then-No. 7 Owls a 5-4 loss at Reckling Park. Garret Autrey, who played the role of hero with an 11th-inning walk-off home run this past weekend, had similar heroics in last season’s victory, singling home Darian Johnson for the game-winner in the top of the seventh.



Johnson will look to factor in some more runs Wednesday as the senior currently leads one of the Southland’s best offenses. Johnson, with a conference-leading 67 hits to go along with 38 RBI, has helped LU to a team .300 average and 294 runs in 44 games. Bumpers, Seth Dornak, V.J. Bunner and Aaron Olivas are also hitting over .300 on the year.

In all, eight of LU’s nine regular starters in the line-up are hitting .290 or better.

On the mound, the Cards have been equally as impressive, boasting of a 3.54 earned run average, which ranks second in the SLC. Lance Warren, who is the scheduled starter for Wednesday, carries a 1-1 record with a 2.45 ERA over 18.1 innings of work. He’ll be making his 14th appearance on the mound this year after playing a role in four different shutouts.

However, the Cards shine most in the diamond, posting the nation’s best fielding percentage at .985. The team has committed just 26 errors this season, second-least in the nation and 18 less than every other conference school. The Cardinal infield has also turned an SLC-best 44 double plays.

Rice is entering Wednesday’s game having not played in more than a week due to finals. The Owls are 28-14 on the year and ranked among the top 30 in all five major baseball polls but sit third in Conference USA, trailing UCF and Southern Miss. The game marks the fourth for LU vs. a ranked non-conference opponent this season, winning over Houston but falling vs. Rice and at LSU.

First pitch at Reckling Park is set for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast locally over the air on KLVI 560 AM.



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