SFA Drops Pair On Season-Opening Saturday

MONROE, La. - The SFA baseball team fell in a heartbreaker in the 2009 season opener to Mississippi Valley State, and then ran into an offensive buzzsaw from the host ULM Warhawks in dropping each of its games on Saturday at the ULM Warhawk Classic.

In game one the `Jacks lost in walk-off fashion as the Delta Devils' Jeff Squier stole home plate on a failed suicide squeeze attempt in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win, while in the nightcap the Warhawks took advantage of 19 hits off of nine SFA pitchers to roll to a 24-7 win.

The 24 runs by the Warhawks was the most an SFA team has allowed in a game since Rice scored 27 on the `Jacks in 1993. It is also the benchmark for the most runs any team has scored in the nation so far through the first two days of action this season. Two of those walks and one hit batter came in the bottom of the ninth as Chris Court loaded the bases with the score tied 3-3 and only one out in the frame. Head coach Johnny Cardenas then lifted him for Alex Moshier, who only threw two pitches In the first game of the day SFA got a pair of hits apiece from Tanner Hines and Justin Long, but SFA pitchers hit six MVSU batters and walked another five in aiding the Delta Devil offensive push.

before the winning run crossed the plate. With Quinn Axton at the plate, Jeff Squier took off from third on an attempted squeeze play, but Axton whiffed on the pitch, leaving Squier in a supposed rundown; however, Ryan Sinclair's throw from home caused third baseman Jeff Kello to dive to his left and deliver a wide throw back to home as Squier crossed the plate with the game-winning steal of home.

SFA had its chance in its half of the eighth and ninth to take the lead, leaving runners in scoring position with less than two outs both times. In the ninth it was Sinclair lead off with a sharp single to right, but the `Jacks could not move him over and eventually left a runner stranded at second. The eighth inning saw Long deliver a one-out triple, but Bautista fanned Joe Staley before Kello grounded out innocently to second to end the inning.

Erik Gregersen got the nod for the opening-day start and responded with five innings, allowing only three runs, two earned, with five strikeouts and two walks. However, he also hit five batters before surrendering the mound to Jared Schrom, who pitched a pair of scoreless innings in his first appearance since March 16 of last year.

Preseason SWAC pitcher of the year Chris Mills only allowed the `Jacks three runs in his seven innings on the mound, but it was Justin Bautista that earned the win after tossing two scoreless innings of relief.

Court was saddled with the loss, despite pitching a near-perfect eighth inning.

In the day's finale senior Erich Lehmann came into the night having posted a 0.75 ERA in 12 career innings over three appearances against ULM since 2006, but surrendered seven runs in the first two frames before being lifted for Cory Ochs to start the third.

The `Jacks got an RBI single in the first from Justin Long to take an early 1-0 lead, but the Warhawks answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning with Ryan McMillan 2-RBI double to left field serving as the big hit of the inning.

ULM added three more an inning later before Lehmann left, but Ochs did not find much more success in his collegiate debut, going only a third of an inning as the Warhawk bats stayed hot. Three more runs crossed in the frame at the hands of Ochs and Harrelson as ULM built a 10-1 lead after only three frames.

However, SFA got a spark an inning later as it sent 10 hitters to the plate while pushing five runs off the board to pull within four runs at 10-6. Three consecutive singles from Long, Joe Staley and Brian Ferguson to lead off the inning loaded the bases for Adam Bosley. He then delivered a high fly ball to the right-field corner, but Perry Smith dropped it allowing Long to score from third. Tanner Hines picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly of his own three hitters later before Sean Meyers eventually roped a two-run double down the first-base line to wrap up the scoring.

There wasn't much good news after that, though, for SFA as the Warhawks exploded for an 11-run sixth inning after 16 hitters went to the plate. All-America shortstop Ben Soignier delivered a grand slam in the inning, putting the game out of reach for the `Jacks.

Meyers led the offense with a 3-for-4 performance, including a pair of RBI. Hines, Long, and Ferguson also each finished with multi-hit games against ULM as the Lumberjacks finished with 11 hits on the night.

SFA concludes the ULM Warhawk Classic on Saturday with a 4:00 p.m. start against SLC foe Northwestern State. The Demons are 1-1 through two games on the year, defeating ULM on Friday in extra innings before falling to Mississippi Valley State on Saturday.

Brett Rogers is set to make his Lumberjack debut while Clayton Cooper is scheduled to pitch for Northwestern State.



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