BASEBALL: Lamar wraps up season with sweep of McNeese State

Published 9:36 pm Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — Lamar closed its 2018 season and sent off its eight seniors in a fitting fashion Saturday with a season sweep of McNeese State.

The Cards (19-36, 13-17 Southland) took down the Cowboys (25-31, 15-15) 6-4 in the series finale for the first three-game sweep against McNeese since 2008.

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“It feels good,” said head coach Will Davis. “It’s great to go out on a high note for these guys, and all the seniors played really well in their last game. The momentum we’ve had since that day we were 1-10 in the conference has been incredible, and we never quit. Unfortunately, we fell one game short of the conference tournament. We were literally one strike away. Hopefully that gives our guys a lot of confidence heading into the future.”

The future looked bright on a day that Jason Blanchard, a junior, earned his first win of the year on five and two-thirds innings pitched, striking out six while allowing just one earned run. Avery George, a freshman, went 4-for-4 on the day with two runs scored and a walk, and Ryan Erickson, a junior, got his fourth save of the year.

Just as much of a contribution came from the eight seniors that completed their collegiate careers on Saturday. Ryan Johnson started the game and ended his career with a flyout to left, dropping his season ERA to just 1.93, and fellow pitcher Jace Campbell bridged the inning and a third between Blanchard and Erickson, striking out three batters. Mike Leal went 2 for 3 on the day with a game-winning, two-RBI double, Chad Fleischman had a hit, and Grant DeVore went 2 for 3 on the day with a run and an RBI. Chad McKinney scored a run and was walked, and Philip Ingram was walked for the 38th time this year. Tanner Driskill concluded his career on Friday with his 10th career win and his 113th strikeout.

Almost all of Lamar’s scoring on Saturday came with two outs, starting with one run in the first inning.

Avery George led off the day with a single to short and reached second on a two-out single from Robin Adames. A two-out single from Cole Coker brought George home before Adames and Coker were stranded on a flyout. After one inning Lamar led 1-0.

McNeese tied up the game in the top of the second on a lead-off double, a sac bunt, and an RBI grounder, but the Cardinals would re-take the lead in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own, holding the Cowboys at arms-length the rest of the game.

Grant DeVore was walked in five pitches with one out and reached second on a two-out single from George. A two-out double from Leal brought George and DeVore home to give Lamar a 3-1 lead through two.

After Blanchard sat down the Cowboys in order in the top of the third, two-out hitting again was clutch in the bottom of the inning. Coker singled with one out and reached second on a two-out single from Fleischman. A two-out single from DeVore brought Coker home and pushed Fleischman to second, but both were stranded on a flyout. After three Lamar led McNeese 4-1.

McNeese threatened to score in the top of the fourth after a walk and a single with one out put a runner in scoring position. Blanchard buckled down and kept McNeese off the board with back-to-back strikeouts, his first two of the game. Big Red’s bats responded by giving Blanchard a bit more run support; George and Leal both singled and after George was picked off, Leal came home on a two-out single from Adames. Lamar took a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning.

Trouble almost reared its head again for Blanchard in the top of the fifth inning when McNeese opened the inning with consecutive singles but the junior again willed his way out of the inning. He forced a liner to left to freeze both runners before striking out the final two Cowboys, keeping the score 5-1 in favor of Lamar. A double play in the bottom of the inning held Lamar scoreless for the first time.

McNeese tried force in some runs again in the sixth inning, and for the third time that day Blanchard held his ground. He struck out the first Cowboy before two singles put a runner in scoring position, but a flyout to right and his sixth strikeout of the day stranded two more for the Cowboys. Lamar used one more offensive burst in the bottom of the sixth. McKinney and Leal sandwiched walks around a George single to load the bases, and though Ingram hit into a double play he brought McKinney home for the sixth run of the day. A grounder to second ended the inning with Lamar leading 6-1.

McNeese tacked one in the seventh and two in the eighth, and threatened to score more with the bases loaded and just one out. Erickson stepped in and forced back-to-back flyouts to render the runners harmless, and Lamar took a 6-4 decision over McNeese to sweep the series.

In addition to over 20 members of the 2018 squad returning for the 2019 campaign, Cardinal fans can also look forward to a nationally ranked 2019 recruiting class playing games at The Beck next season. Make sure to stay tuned to for all updates on the 2018 off-season, including summer camps, the 2018 summer ball play that several current Cardinals will participate in, and the 2018 Fall World Series.