From SLU Athletics
CONWAY, Ark. – Southeastern Louisiana strung together a trio of two-out singles in the fifth to drive in the only run of the game and a trio of Lion pitchers made the 1-0 lead stand up Thursday against No. 22-ranked Sam Houston State in the second round of the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament.
Southeastern (35-23) defeated Sam Houston (41-16) for the first time in four games this season, winning its first two games of the tournament for the third-consecutive season.
"Today was a fantastic ball game," Southeastern head coach Matt Riser said. "I don't think you are going to find a better game anywhere; any conference or any level baseball. It was a fantastic job on both ends. Both guys just kept grinding it out. You have to tip your hat to Sam Houston pitcher (Tyler Eppler), he pitched his guts out, and he just kept competing and kept competing. Our guys just found a way to compete just a hair tougher, and found a way to get the one run across, and that ended up being everything."
Tate Scioneaux, a sophomore right-hander from Reserve, Louisiana, and Eppler hooked up in a pitcher's duel, with both working out of early jams.
The Bearkats put runners at second and third with one out in the top of the second inning, but Scioneaux fanned back-to-back hitters to end the threat.
Jacob Williams and Jacob Seward produced consecutive one-out singles in the bottom of third, but Eppler got Jameson Fisher to ground out and Andrew Godbold to fly out.
Locked in a scoreless battle entering the fifth, Eppler retired the first two batters before Seward picked up the second of his three hits in the game. Fisher followed with a single to right field and then Godbold sliced a single into right, driving in Seward from second. It was Godbold's fifth RBI of the tournament.
Sam Houston threatened to immediately tie up the game. Anthony Azar, the 2014 Southland Conference Player of the Year, led off the sixth with a single to left-center. Ryan O'Hearn, the Bearkat first baseman and cleanup hitter, followed with a single up the middle.
Scioneaux buckled down, forcing a pop up on a sacrifice bunt and getting a fly out to center. With two outs, he plunked second baseman Shea Pierce to load the bases. Riser elected to bring in senior reliever Jason Greenleaf to face left fielder Luke Plucheck, who had hit a two-run home run off Scioneaux earlier this season. Greenleaf responded by fanning Plucheck to end the threat.
The Bearkats threatened again in the eighth, working a one-out walk before third baseman Carter Burgess doubled down the right-field line. Riser once again went to the bullpen, calling on sophomore right-hander Mason Klotz, and again the reliever eliminated the threat. Klotz fanned a batter and got a fly ball to left, stranding the runners.
Klotz issued a one-out walk in the ninth, but retired the next two batters to wrap up the game.
Scioneaux (7-6) earned the win, his first since April 19 at New Orleans, and Klotz was credited with his fifth save of the season. Eppler (8-6) was tagged with the loss.
Southeastern's shutout of the Bearkats marks the first time Sam Houston has been held scoreless since a 2-0 loss at the hands of Stephen F. Austin on March 29, 2013, a span of 91 games.
"Today was about as locked in and focused we have been all year," Riser said. "We are hitting that stride at the right time. The competitiveness is what we keep talking about and keep harping on. If we just keep competing, then watch what happens. We put ourselves in a fantastic spot. We are going to be here until Championship Saturday."
Southeastern, the No. 5 seed, will face either top-seeded Sam Houston State or Northwestern State (32-25) again at 4 p.m. Friday at Bear Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. The Bearkats and Demons play at 9 a.m. in elimination game for the right to match up against the Lions later in the day.
All of Southeastern's tournament games can be heard in the Hammond area on KSLU 90.9 FM, online and either the KSLU or TuneIn Radio smartphone apps. Fans can keep up with the tournament through live statistics or by following SLUathletics on Twitter.
Every game of the tournament, which the exception of the title game, will be streamed live on the Southland Conference Digital Network, which includes Southland.org and the league's free mobile and tablet apps. The title game will be available exclusively on EPSN3.