BASEBALL: Cards give up no earned runs in DH sweep

Published 9:45 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – In a doubleheader that featured two pitchers’ duels, Lamar  (3-3) emerged unscathed by Hofstra (0-2), allowing no earned runs in two wins over the Pride on Friday night. The Cardinals outscored Hofstra 5-1 in 18 innings of play.

“This is what we dreamed this pitching staff would be,” said head coach Will Davis. “We’d had some pretty good outings going into this weekend, but none better than the two we had today. Jace, Storrie, Driskill, Sills, and Erickson all pitched unbelievably today.”

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Game 1 – Lamar 2, Hofstra 1

It appeared that two errors by Lamar in the top of the second could prove to be the difference through 6 1/2 innings of the first game as both starting pitchers threw gems. Lamar starter Jace Campbell threw six innings of a no-decision, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out eight Hofstra batters. His counterpart John Rooney threw six innings as well, surrendering just five hits and two walks while striking out five Cardinals and shutting out Lamar while he remained on the mound.

Hofstra’s lone run of the day came in second inning full of bad luck for the Cardinals. It began with a four-pitch walk of Teddy Cillis, who stole second during Mikey Riesner’s at-bat. Riesner and Justin Smith were both struck out by Campbell, but an LU error prevented the final out, allowing Tyler White to reach first safely and Cillis to advance to third. Campbell then misjudged a pickoff attempt, resulting in another error that let White reach second and Cillis score. Campbell rebounded by striking out Daniel Page, the third of his eight on the day, which limited the damage. Still, Hofstra held a 1-0 advantage through the next four innings as Lamar stranded five base runners, including three on a bases-loaded opportunity with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Cardinals swapped Kristjan Storrie in for Campbell to open the seventh inning, and the junior transfer from Langley, British Columbia, threw a beauty. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then fought through a single and a walk to strikeout the fifth batter he faced. As the Lamar fans stood and stretched, Hofstra tenuously held on to that 1-0 lead.

Lamar’s first successful pinch hit of the year changed everything. Chase Whetsel came to the plate in place of Chad Fleischman and singled up the middle on the third pitch he saw. Whetsel then advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs and scored when Cole Coker singled to left center field. As Whetsel was beating the throw from the Hofstra centerfielder home, Coker reached second. A single to left field by Cole Secrest on an 0-2 count scored Coker, giving Lamar a 2-1 lead.

Tanner Driskill relieved Storrie at the start of the eighth inning and shined once again. The senior from Round Rock struck out three while holding Hofstra hitless and not surrendering a walk. Driskill earned his second save in as many appearances, facing the minimum in the eighth and ninth innings.

Game 2 – Lamar 3, Hofstra 0

The second game of the day proved to be as much of a dandy as the first, with Noah Sills and Hofstra starter Matt Weissheier going toe-to-toe through five innings scoreless innings. Sills allowed five hits and one walk while striking out six in five and two-thirds innings, and Weissheier allowed just three hits, two walks, and one earned run while striking out two in five and a third.

Payton Robertson put Lamar into scoring position for just the second time in the game at the bottom of the fifth inning, doubling to center field to lead off the frame. He was pushed to third by a well-placed sac bunt by DeVore, which ran Weissheier. Coker fouled off the first pitch he saw from Trey Cillis, then smoked a double to almost the same spot as Robertson, scoring the sophomore shortstop from Orange. A foul out and a ground out would limit the damage, but the Cardinals once again held a one-run lead over their opponents, which would prove to be enough.

Ryan Erickson, who had relieved Sills in the top of the fifth inning with two outs, pitched 3 1/3 innings of spectacular baseball. The converted outfielder allowed no hits, walked one batter and beaned another while striking out four, holding Hofstra in a helpless state for the rest of the game. Erickson earned his first career save for his stellar effort.

“If you had told me two years ago that I’d be bringing in Ryan to close games with a one-run game I’d have told you that you were crazy,” said Davis. “He was an outfielder for us and not a very good one at that. We’re happy we made the switch, and the work that [pitching coach] Sean Snedeker has done with him is incredible. He’s got real swing-and-miss stuff with nine strikeouts in five and a third innings. He’s been basically unhittable.”

Lamar pushed two insurance runs across in the bottom of the eighth inning as bizarre happenstance struck Vincent-Beck Stadium. With no outs, Robertson on first, Chad McKinney on second, and DeVore at the plate, the light pole directly behind the press box completely shut down, significantly darkening the infield. A delay of about 20 minutes ensued as a debate on whether to postpone the game took place, but in the end the two teams decided to finish the game. DeVore drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases with no outs, and Coker earned his second RBI of the game by hitting into a fielder’s choice that struck down DeVore but pushed Robertson to third and scored McKinney. A wild pitch pushed Robertson across, giving Lamar its margin of victory, 3-0.

Lamar’s LHP Grason Wright will face Hofstra’s RHP Brad Camarda at noon Saturday in the first of a doubleheader. RHP Jack Dallas will start the final game for Lamar against RHP Seamus Brazill. The finale of the series will start 45 minutes after Game 3 ends.