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BASEBALL: Cards light up Southland-leading Lions

Lamar 13, SE Louisiana 9

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — Taking a big lead in the first and never looking back, Lamar (16-30, 8-18 Southland) dominated Southland-leading Southeastern Louisiana (26-21, 15-8) in a 13-9 victory. The Cardinals had 18 hits including three home runs, and Cole Girouard came a triple short of hitting the cycle.

“Jason pitched great, we played stellar defense, and we swung the bats really well obviously,” said head coach Will Davis. “We just kept pouring it on because with offensive conditions like we had today no lead is safe. It was pretty crucial that when they got those three runs in the fifth to make it 9-3 we were able to answer in the sixth and make it 12-3. It was just a really good overall performance for us today, and after last night’s controversy it was great to see our guys pick themselves up after a real gut punch and respond in that fashion.”

Jason Blanchard was lights-out again for the Cardinals, throwing a perfect game through four innings. The senior from Kingwood allowed three earned runs on five hits while walking just one and striking out six. He threw 103 pitches in seven innings of work. Marcus Olivarez threw and inning and two-thirds and A.J. Ozorio-Brace got the final out.

The hit-fest got started in the bottom of the first with Avery George. He earned his sixth straight hit in six at-bats, then reached third on a double by Cole Girouard. A single from Cole Coker scored both speedy Cardinals, and JC Correa gave Coker plenty of time to come home in the next at-bat. The junior from Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, homered to tie with Anthony Quirion for the team lead with his eighth long bomb of the year. A double play ended the inning with LU leading 4-0.

Reese Durand led off the second with a first pitch single and reached second on a four-pitch walk of Rhett McCall. A one-out double from Girouard scored Durand and put McCall on second, and an RBI grounder from Coker scored McCall. Big Red 6-0 through two.

A lead-off homer from Robin Adames was the first of three runs in the third. Logan Berlof followed that up with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a single by Quirion. An error on an attempted sac bunt by Durand scored Berlof and a fielder’s choice from McCall scored Quirion. Another fielder’s choice and a 4-3 grounder staunched the bleeding but not before Lamar led 9-0 through three innings.

The Cardinal scoring streak snapped in the fourth inning despite Correa’s best efforts. He singled through left side on an 0-1 pitch but was stranded at first. Through four Lamar led 9-0.

The Lion bats started to awaken in the fifth. A leadoff single reached second on a walk and went another 90 feet on a 3-2 count single. The third single of the inning scored two and a sac fly to center field gave Southeastern a third run. A strikeout and a grounder to second ended the top frame of the fifth, and after a 1-2-3 inning for Lamar in the bottom half the score remained 9-3 in favor of Lamar through five innings.

A nifty 5-4-3 double play in the sixth allowed Blanchard to face the minimum for the fifth time in the game, and Lamar’s offense answered the call in the bottom of the sixth. George got his second hit of the day in the leadoff position and came home on a first pitch homer by Girouard. A walk of Coker reached second on a one-out single by Adames, and two-out singles by Quirion and Durand scored one more for Lamar. Through six LU led 12-3.

Blanchard reached down deep in the top of the seventh after a leadoff single. The senior southpaw struck out the side, fighting through a 2-2 count in the final at-bat for SLU. Singles by George, Girouard, and Adames put one more run up on the board for Lamar in the bottom half, and Big Red led 13-3 through seven innings.

A one-out walk and a two-out double scored one for SLU in the eighth, and four hits in the ninth scored another five runs to make the score deceptively close, but Lamar held on to win 13-9 over the Lions.

First pitch for the series finale is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Cardinals are expected to throw LHP Grason Wright.