The Port Arthur News
BEAUMONT — The Lamar baseball team will look to bounce back from the first conference series loss since March this weekend as the team travels to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for an important three-game series against the Islanders.
Lamar, which sat atop the Southland Conference prior to last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Oral Roberts, enters tied for fifth this weekend, trailing the second-place Islanders by just one game and first-place Sam Houston by three.
Despite the recent downturn, the Cards are still in good shape to make the Southland Tournament in Sugarland later this month, sealing a berth with a win or a Nicholls loss.
The Cards (33-15, 12-9 SLC) will carry the Southland’s best-hitting offense into the weekend, boasting of a .296 average and 103 doubles, which ranks 11th nationally. Individually, five Cardinal hitters have a .300-or-better average, led by the duo of Darian Johnson and Sam Bumpers at .372 and .355, respectively.
Johnson ranks 13th nationally and first in the SLC with 73 hits on the year, and he’s also rated as the fourth-toughest hitter in the country to strike out. Bumpers ranks fourth in the league in runs scored with 40, and fellow Card Jude Vidrine leads the category with 43.
On the mound, LU plans to trot out Jonathan Dziedzic on Friday evening. The southpaw out of Humble is the school’s strikeout king with 303 for his career and he ranks eighth in the NCAA this season with 92 over 85.1 innings of work. The junior has been involved in three shutouts to go along with a 6-2 record and a 2.95 earned run average.
Also starting will be Will Hibbs on Saturday. The towering 6-foot-7 freshman out of Friendswood will be making his 10th appearance of the season and his first career start. He’s tossed 14.1 innings this year with a 6.91 ERA. Hibbs is coming off his longest outing of the year, allowing a pair of scores over 4.1 frames in last Sunday’s loss to Oral Roberts.
Sunday’s starter has yet to be determined.
The Islanders enter the weekend with a 28-20 record, including a 13-8 mark in conference play. The squad currently ranks third in the SLC in batting at .287 and are coming off a three-game sweep of McNeese State in Corpus Christi. Last season, the Cards dropped two out of three to the Islanders in Beaumont.
First pitch for tonight is set for 6 p.m. Play on Saturday and Sunday will begin at 4 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.