Rain changes up Cards’ conference series

Published 12:02 am Friday, April 22, 2016

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – Twice this season the weather has ruined a midweek game, and just like the first time the weekend series following was affected.

The Lamar baseball team will open a seven-game road swing at Houston Baptist with a three-game tilt set to be played in two days. LU (26-10, 11-4 Southland Conference) will play the Huskies (18-17, 9-6) at 2 p.m. today before they play a doubleheader Saturday at 11 a.m. at Husky Field. Both teams enter after having their midweek, non-conference games canceled because of the weather.

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A pair of aces will take the mound in Friday night’s contest in right-handers Will Hibbs (7-1, 1.94 earned run average) and Addison Russ (6-2, 2.27). Hibbs is a reigning Louisville Slugger Pitcher of the Week and was recently named to the College Baseball Hall Pitcher of the Year watchlist.

The senior leads the Southland Conference in wins and has 65 innings of work. He’s allowed only 14 earned runs and punched out 68 batters with just 16 walks. Russ has 67 1/3 innings pitched and given up 17 earned runs. The junior has struck out 48 and has walked 17.

Righty Billy Love (3-2, 3.22) will take on Christian Thames (2-3, 3.40) in the first game Saturday. Love has pitched 44 2/3 frames and allowed 16 earned runs. The junior has struck out 34 and walked 16. Thames has 15 earned runs allowed in almost 40 frames with 21 punchouts.

LU hasn’t decided on a pitcher for Sunday, but the Huskies will go with right-hander Zach Carter (1-2, 4.22). He’s worked 32 innings, mostly in relief and has 15 earned runs allowed. He’s pitched in 12 games with just five starts. As a staff, the Huskies allow 4.7 runs a contest, but has an ERA of 3.99.

The HBU offense hits at a .257 clip and scores an average of 4.2 runs per game. It is led by four hitters with .300-plus averages in Austin Zillweger (.321), Greg Espinosa (.319), Andrew Alvarez (.315) and Louie Payetta (.304). Payetta is the team-leader with 19 runs batted in and tied with Brandon Brintz for the lead in runs (18).

Reid Russell jumped back on top of the team standings for hitting with a .305 batting average. He leads a team that hits .292 and averages 6.4 runs a game. Stijn van der Meer is hitting .359 on the year, followed by .331 from Bryndan Arredondo and .305 from Jake Nash. All four are the top four hitters in the Cardinal lineup.

Robin Adames is in striking distance of a .300 average sitting at .292 on the season. Nash is the only Cardinal that registers in the 30s in both RBI (36) and runs scored (31). Van der Meer follows him at 29 runs scored and Russell leads Nash with 38 RBI.  If Russell can get to 40 RBI, he’ll have the most since three Cardinals did so in 2013, and Nash has a shot at being the first 40-40 guy in the same season.

Going back to the weekend against McNeese State, four of the last six weekends on the Lamar schedule will be against four of the top five teams in the league standings; LU is the other. There is no midweek game scheduled for the upcoming week, so Big Red will head to San Antonio to face their Cardinal foes at Incarnate Word.