BASEBALL: Cards earn series win behind Secrest’s 5-for-5

Published 9:37 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

Lamar sports information

CORPUS CHRISTI – A 5-for-5 performance from Cole Secrest and a glowing pitching performance from Ryan Erickson locked down the series win Saturday for Lamar (9-26, 5-12 Southland). The Cardinals defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (18-18, 3-14 SLC) 11-6.
“It feels great to get that series win,” said head coach Will Davis. “I don’t know if [Cole Secrest] is getting back in rhythm; I think he’s making the jump. Earlier in the year people didn’t know anything about him and were throwing fastballs down the middle. Now the scouting book is out on him, and he had to make an adjustment, laying off curve balls or recognizing curve balls up in the zone. You can’t just be a guy who hits fastballs at this level. He’s making that jump, and this weekend it came together for him.
The story of the game was the offense and Erickson. I told [pitching coach Sean Snedeker] in the fifth inning that if we wait around for the save, there won’t be a save. He stepped up when we needed him most.”
Lamar jumped on the Islanders early, scoring four runs in the first inning. Philip Ingram opened the game with a single through the right side on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, and Cole Girouard joined him on the base paths after being beaned. With two outs Logan LeJeune drew a walk to load the bases.
Cole Secrest stepped to the plate as the Islander infield shifted. The second baseman moved several steps to his left, opening up the middle. Secrest took that as a cue, smacking the first pitch he saw past the pitcher to bring Ingram and Girouard home and put LeJeune on second. A single to left from Grant DeVore scored LeJeune, and Avery George earned his first collegiate RBI when he singled Secrest home. A fielder’s choice ended the top of the inning and Noah Sills faced the minimum to put Lamar up 4-0 through the first.
A&M-Corpus Christi made its first attempt at a comeback in the second inning. Two walks, a hit-by-pitch, an error, a single, and a sac fly put two runs across for the Islanders, and after two innings Lamar led 4-2.
Big Red got some more breathing room in the top of the third, scoring three runs on two hits. LeJeune wore a pitch and reached third on Secrest’s double. A fielder’s choice struck down Secrest but allowed LeJeune to score and put DeVore on first, and DeVore reached second when an error allowed George to reach. A bunt sac from McKinney scored DeVore and put George on second, and a single from Ingram scored George. A fielder’s choice ended the half inning with Lamar leading 7-2.
The Islanders continued their rally in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, scoring four runs on seven hits. With the bases loaded, Lamar’s lead trimmed to 7-5, and no outs in the fifth, Ryan Erickson relieved Taylor Rich. The Beaumont native struck out the first batter, got his second out on a sac fly to left, and forced a 6-3 grounder to end the inning. Lamar held a tenuous 7-6 lead through five innings.
Girouard singled to left field to lead off the top of the sixth, sparking a Cardinal comeback. A wild pitch with Robin Adames allowed Girouard to reach second, and the sophomore from Port Neches stole third during Cole Coker‘s at-bat. When Coker reached on a fielding error at first Girouard scored, and LeJeune, Secrest, and DeVore collected three singles in a row to load the bases with one out and Lamar leading 9-6.

George wore on to push the 10th Cardinal run across, and a fielder’s choice from McKinney scored Lamar’s final run.
Including the fifth inning, Erickson sat down 11 batters in a row before an error in the eighth snapped the streak. A&M-Corpus Christi put runners on first and second with a single in the next at-bat, but a flyout to left ended the inning. Erickson sat down the final three Islanders in order to get his first career win.
“Hopefully the offensive momentum we’ve got now can keep going, but momentum in baseball is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher,” said Davis. “I feel really good about Jason Blanchard, and hopefully he can keep it going for us.”
The Cards will go for a series sweep and their 10th-consecutive win over the Islanders Sunday at 1 p.m. with Blanchard on the mound. He’ll face righty Dustin Lacaze.

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