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Two 2-1 wins put Cardinals at 4-0

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – Two almost identical games were won by a gritty Lamar baseball squad when the Cardinals defeated both Illinois and Milwaukee by a 2-1 score to sweep the Cardinal Classic to open the season at Vincent-Beck Stadium in non-conference action.

Both games went to extra innings tied at 1-1, and both times Lamar (4-0) came up big in the bottom of the 10th and found a way to pull it out.

In the first game against Illinois (1-3), it was a double from Trey Silvers to left field, followed by an intentional walk to Reid Russell and single that kicked off a leaping Trent Hammond’s glove at third that loaded the bases. With two outs and Chaneng Varela at the dish, Joey Gerber buried a pitch that got by Catcher David Craan and allowed pinch runner Brendan Satran to scurry home.

In the nightcap, Grant DeVore wore a pitch to lead off the inning and was bunted over by Vincent Dellocono. Phil Ingram came through with a clutch single through the left side that put men on the corners with one out, and Cutter McDowell chopped on into the turf toward shortstop Mike Ferri, who was late on the throw home.

“It was just a job well done by all of our guys. We had such dramatic wins that we weren’t really able enjoy until right now because we had to turn the page so fast to the next opponent. There’s enough lows in the business that you really want to enjoy the highs,” said head coach Will Davis, who became the first Cardinal skipper to win his first four games at the helm.

“We played to good ball clubs, and they are just going to get better and better. It was a great challenge for us and I think we only got better because of this weekend.”

In each contest, the team that scored first did not have an advantage for long. Illinois scored first against the Cardinals in the top of the eighth, but Reid Russell responded with a single to center field in the bottom of the frame that pushed across McDowell from third base. McDowell reached on a double to left center and was moved on a sacrifice bunt from Silvers.

LU scored first against Milwaukee on a double to the right field wall by Robin Adames that scored Silvers from first base. Silvers took off once he saw the ball would fall and trucked all the way in the bottom of the fourth. But in the fifth, a leadoff walk hurt LU when Billy Quirke scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Ben Chally.

Jace Campbell started for Lamar on the hill in the early game and was dominant. He pitched seven shutout frames with just two hits allowed. He walked three but struck out eight. Galen Andrews (1-0) earned the victory on three innings with only one run given up on three hits. The senior punched out three.

Campbell worked three perfect innings in the contest (first, sixth and seventh) and left the game with seven retired in a row – the highest he had the entire contest. Of the five base runners he allowed, none were able to get into scoring position.

“We had so many unknowns on our pitching staff coming into the season. We knew we brought in talented arms like Tanner Driskill, Jace Campbell and Carson Lance. Until you them in a Division I game, you don’t really know how they will respond,” said Davis. “What can you say about a freshman in Nathan Gabryszwski this weekend? Brett Brown got better, Galen Andrews got better. To have guys go 20 innings and only give up two runs was great to see.”

Drew Van Winkle was the starter against Milwaukee, and was able to work out of danger a couple of times. He worked 2 2/3 innings with just three hits allowed and walked two. Brown relieved him in the third and pitched into the sixth with one hit and four walks allowed.

Gabryszwski worked a perfect frame with a strikeout before Jimmy Johnson took over for three innings. The senior allowed only one hit and was untouchable for the rest with six strikeouts. Chad Fleischman (1-0) took the win after one inning of work with just a walk allowed.

Led by Russell’s 3-for-7 day at the plate, the top six hitters in the LU order were a collective 14-of-46 (.304) in both games combined. Both Arredondo and Ingram also chipped in with three base knocks and Adames and Silvers each had two.

The team combined for 16 walks in Saturday’s doubleheader, and followed that with 10 on Sunday.

“I think a lot of people would be worried about having a predominantly right-handed hitting team with a bunch of big guys, but I’m not.  Hitting is hitting. We put together a bunch of good at-bats, and we walk,” said Davis. “That’s an underrated part of our game, maybe not as much today but that was about [llinois’ and Milwaukee’s] arms. That’s a skill, it’s not by random chance.”

The Cardinals take the week off with no midweek contests, but they host Fairfield in another four-game set that starts Friday at 6 p.m.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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