Chase Greening came just two outs away from SFA's first no-hitter on Friday night at McNeese State.
April 12, 2013
LAKE CHARLES, La. - Chase Greening came just two outs away from the first no-hitter in Stephen F. Austin history and the Lumberjacks scratched across three runs off of McNeese State starter Blake Ware for a 3-0 win in the series opener on Friday night at Cowboy Diamond.
Greening retired the first 20 hitters he faced and struck out 10 Cowboys (18-14, 5-5 SLC) before Connor Lloyd smacked a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth to break up the senior's no-hit bid. After one more single from Chayse Marion, Brett Higginbotham came on to clean things up in the ninth and earn his fourth save of the year for SFA (17-16, 7-3 SLC).
"I was pretty aware of the situation, but my pitch count was up there in the ninth," Greening said. "Still, I'm glad my teammates were able to pick me up with a few runs. At the end of the day, the biggest thing was coming away with the win."
The win pushes SFA over the .500 mark for the first time this season, and also into a three-way tie with Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana for first place in the Southland Conference.
Greening moved to 3-2 on the year with the win, matching his career high with 130 pitches to get through 8.1 innings. It was not the first time Greening has had success against the Cowboys as he threw a complete-game shutout against McNeese State last season in Nacogdoches.
Offensively, the `Jacks only managed seven hits off of Cowboy pitching, including Ware, who struck out four and walked four in 8.0 innings of work. He took the loss to fall to 5-3 on the season.
Rene' Moreda and Brett Thornell each had two hits for SFA, while Joseph Olson drove in SFA's first two runs on a single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Moreda had SFA's other RBI with a grounder in the ninth.
A one-out walk to Max Lamantia, a single from Ricardo Sanchez and a McNeese error set SFA up for its first run of the night in the top of the second, and Olson cashed in with an RBI single to right field on an 0-2 pitch to put SFA up 1-0.
From there, Greening took over, setting down the Cowboys in order in each of the next four innings, while Ware was matching him nearly pitch for pitch on the other side. SFA did leave runners on in both the third and the fifth, before Greening finally allowed his first base runner when he lost Jackson Goodch on a walk with two outs in the seventh.
One inning later SFA had a golden chance to add on to its 1-0 lead, putting runners on the corners after a Moreda single and a McNeese error on a botched sacrifice bunt attempt by Michael Ruiz. But Ware responded by fanning Hunter Dozier and getting Freddy Villalobos to ground in to an inning-ending double play to keep the Cowboys within a run with an inning to go.
The Cowboys got another runner on via walk in the eighth, moving the potential tying run up to second on a passed ball with just one out; but, again Greening responded, striking out Hans Ask and pinch hitter Skyler Barrentine to end the inning.
SFA finally cracked the scoring column again in the ninth, giving Greening some insurance going into the final frame. A walk to Mackenzie Handel started things and Lamania followed with a double to right field off of reliever Tyler Parke. Then, after an intentional walk to Sanchez to load the bases, Olson flew a sacrifice fly to center field to score a run, and two batters later Moreda plated another with a grounder to first.
Greening then struck out Andrew Guillotte for his 10th strikeout of the night, but Lloyd followed by lining a sure single to right field to spoil the no-hit bid. Marion followed with a pulled single to right, bringing up Gooch as the tying run with one down in the inning. SFA then turned to Higginbotham for the fifth straight game, and the senior righty responded by getting Gooch to pop out harmlessly to shortstop and then striking out Michael Sullivan to close the door on his fourth save of the year.
SFA will try to clinch the series on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. when Kyle Cross gets the start against fellow right-hander Bryce Kingsley.