NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Junior Brett Higginbotham tossed his first career complete game and Ricardo Sanchez delivered what proved to be the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the third inning as Stephen F. Austin held off the ULM Warhawks, 4-3, on Tuesday at Jaycees Field.
SFA (2-7) got 11 total hits on the day from nine total hitters, including two apiece from outfielders Sanchez and Rory Myers, and the `Jacks scored all of their runs in the first three innings to put an end to its fourth-game losing streak.
It was Higginbotham's first win of the season with the junior fanning a career-best five Warhawk (6-3) hitters in his nine innings, allowing just six hits in all and just three singles in his final six innings of work.
His effort negated a solid relief appearance from ULM's Andrew Richardson, who took the loss after giving up just a pair of runs in 7.0 innings with six punch outs and a walk. He entered in the second inning after freshman Andrew Hermeling had allowed four hits and hit a pair of batters in his second start of the season.
Higginbotham's second start began similar to his first start last week vs Grambling as the Warhawks got a two-run single from Corben Green in the opening frame to quickly stake itself to a 2-0 lead. SFA answered in its half of the frame by taking advantage of a pair of hit batters by Hermeling when Jordon Lenaburg bounced a single through the left side of the infield to cut the lead to 2-1 and score Hunter Dozier from second base.
ULM put another run on the scoreboard thanks to an SFA miscue in the top of the second when leadoff man Les Aulds scored from second base when a pickoff try from Higginbotham sailed into center field. The right-hander then stranded a runner on second base to end the inning and the `Jacks got a little closer in the bottom of the second inning on a sacrifice fly from Zach Benson.
Higginbotham then worked around a leadoff single in to open the third inning by retiring each of the next three hitters before SFA went to work offensively in its half of the frame. Dozier led the inning off with a double down the right field line and three batters later catcher Adam Mann shot a double into the left field corner off of Richardson that scored Dozier.
Sanchez then followed Mann's hit with one of his own, a first-pitch single into right field which scored Mann who slid in under the tag of ULM catcher Logan Fiasco.
From there it was all Higginbotham, who allowed just three more hits the remainder of the way and just one Warhawk hitter as far as second base. He finished the game on strong as well, retiring each of the last 10 ULM hitters he faced, including registering a strikeout in each of the final three innings.
The `Jacks will try and build on Tuesday's win when it hosts another Sun Belt Conference opponent, South Alabama, this weekend for a three-game series at Jaycees Field. The first game is set for Friday at 3:00 p.m. with Chase Greening scheduled to start for SFA.