BASEBALL: Lamar shows positives in loss to UTRGV

Published 12:44 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

BEAUMONT – The final score of 5-2 might be misleading, but there was evidence that Lamar (3-8) was beginning to put the pieces of the 2018 season’s puzzle together Friday night in a loss against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (6-4).

Senior Phil Ingram went 3 of 4 on the night, and freshman Chet Jones threw three scoreless innings to close the game for the Cardinals.

“We’ve been through the ringer here with 11 games in 15 days,” said head coach Will Davis. “It’s been a lot to ask some of these young guys. When you have a bad game, you’ve got to answer the bell the next day. That’s tough, especially for young hitters. We’re asking nine freshmen and a sophomore to do all this, and when they have a bad game they all have to go back out there and do it again the next day. There’s no time to clear your head, and I think that’s contributed to some of the issues we’ve had.”

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Ingram started the night off with a bang, singling over his shortstop counterpart to lead off the first. That inspired a first pitch moonshot to right field from Chase Whetsel scoring both and giving the Cards a 2-0 lead after one in Vincent-Beck Stadium. Big Red held that advantage through three innings and came within a few inches of growing that lead in the first, second, and third, stranding five base runners thanks to nifty infield defense for UTRGV.

The Vaqueros jumped ahead in the fourth. An interesting strike zone led to singles by the first three UTRGV batters in the inning, and a walk followed with the bases loaded, giving UTRGV its first run of the game. A single allowed another Vaquero run to come home, and a double scored two more for UTRGV. Ingram caught a line drive and threw home to beat the runner on third for a double play to end the inning, but UTRGV held a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.

Lamar had at least one base runner in four of the final six innings but couldn’t push any of those six runners across. UTRGV scored one more on an error, two singles, and a balk on a disputed timeout to set the final score: UTRGV 5, Lamar 2.

“I am encouraged,” said Davis. “If it was a lack of talent I’d be worried, but it’s just a lack of experience. We’re going to keep running them out there, and we’ve seen improvement. Chase Kemp has been swinging it a bit better the past few days, and good things are on the horizon for him. The future is bright here. They’re the top-ranked recruiting class, but they’re still freshmen. That’s what we’re dealing with. We have 18-year-olds playing 22-year-olds.”

Southpaw Noah Sills (2-0, 0.00 ERA) will start for Lamar in today’s game, scheduled for a 2 p.m. start in Vincent-Beck Stadium. He’ll face UTRGV’s left-hand pitcher Jorge Flores (1-1, 14.54 ERA).