Cardinals ranked No. 25; Hibbs named pitcher of week

Published 11:37 pm Monday, April 11, 2016

The News staff report

BEAUMONT — Lamar is being richly rewarded for its ability to come back in big baseball games and command the mound.

A day after overcoming deficits of 7-1 and 12-6 to beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 15-12 on the road, Lamar (25-7, 10-2 Southland) received its first national ranking in seven years, breaking into the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll at No. 25. Also, the Southland Conference named Cardinals ace Will Hibbs its Pitcher of the Week.

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Lamar has won 15 straight games, which is the longest active in the nation and its second in Southland standings only to Southeastern Louisiana (25-8, 13-2). Sam Houston State (18-14, 11-4) is third with fourth-place McNeese State (18-11, 10-5) coming to visit Vincent-Beck Stadium for a three-game Battle of the Border series starting Friday.

Along with the winning streak, leadoff and senior shortstop Stijn van der Meer has hit safely in each of the last 22 games and reached safely in each of the past 30. He went 1 for 5 for the second straight day Sunday, but he also drove in a run and scored one himself.

Jacoby Middleton lined a triple to drive in the go-ahead run with the game tied at 12. Reid Russell batted in five runs on three hits and scored two runs. Cutter McDowell was 2 for 5 with an RBI and Robin Adames went 2 for 3.

Two days earlier, Hibbs (6-1, 2.09 ERA) hurled his award-worthy game.

He threw Lamar’s first shutout of the season, a 1-0 win, allowing only five hits and six runners (one on an error) while striking out 10 and walking none in a complete game. He joins Middleton and Russell as previous Cardinals to be named conference Player of the Week this season.

Lamar previously was ranked nationally in March 2009 at No. 23 following a 9-1 start to the season. That team finished 38-22 and 20-13 in the Southland but did not win a championship. (The 2010 Lamar team is the most recent to win the Southland tournament and earn an NCAA regional berth.)

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association has Lamar ranked 37th in its poll as of Monday.

Lamar has not lost a game since a 4-3 decision to Houston on March 15 and started its winning streak three days later in Beaumont against Central Arkansas, 19-5. Included in the streak is a 4-2 marquee victory at traditional power Texas.

The Cards also have beaten LSU and Arizona at times when those teams were nationally ranked, too.

Lamar visits Baylor for a 4 p.m. game Wednesday in Waco.