Zach Gardner tied a school record with five hits in Saturday's game at Southeastern Louisiana.
May 9, 2009
HAMMOND, La. - Zach Gardner spearheaded an 18-hit outburst by the SFA offense with a school-record tying five hits on Saturday, but Southeastern Louisiana rallied for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to squeak out a 11-10 win at Alumni Field.
The `Jacks (22-26, 13-15 SLC) entered the night needing either a win or an afternoon loss by McNeese State at UTSA to clinch a berth in the upcoming SLC Tournament, and got the latter of the two when the Cowboys fell 20-6 to the Roadrunners in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon. That clinched SFA's second-ever berth in the tournament that is scheduled for May 20-23 in Corpus Christi.
But SFA also had a chance to get back to the .500 mark in the conference for the first time this season and let it slip through its fingers despite leading nearly the entire way. The `Jacks held a 10-7 lead over the Lions (33-18, 19-10 SLC) after scoring four runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but Southeastern pushed across four runs in their final at bat on only three singles to capture the win.
It was the Lion's 22nd comeback victory of the season, and also served as the first blown save of the season in 13 chances for SFA stopper Richard Folmer who was saddled with his third loss of the season. SFA pitching walked four batters on the night, but hit five batters to aid the Lion cause. Southeastern entered the week fourth in the nation in being hit by pitches.
Robert Rugg picked up the win, despite allowing SFA's 10th run of the night in his only inning of work. He moved to 2-0 on the season.
Gardner finished up 5-for-6 on the night, including his fifth home run of the season to become the fifth Lumberjack in recorded history, and the first since 2007, to record five hits in a game this year. But he was just one of several `Jacks that had solid offensive nights, with 14 of SFA's 18 hits coming from the top four hitters in the Lumberjack lineup. All but one of SFA's starting nine had at least one hit on the night.
SFA got to Lion pitching early on for the second consecutive night, but this time their weapon of choice was the single rather than the home run. The `Jacks slapped four base hits through the infield against Lion starter Brandon Efferson and Brian Ferguson and Bo Coffman were each able to drive in a run apiece with theirs. It could have been an even bigger inning, but Southeastern first baseman Joe Sparacino kept it at 2-0 with a diving play on a hard-hit grounder from Justin Long with the bases loaded for the third out of the inning.
SFA starter Jared West sat the Lions down in order in the first, but got himself into trouble early in the second by plunking each of the first to hitters of the inning. Sparacino then loaded the bases with an infield hit and Phillip Freeman cut the lead to 2-1 with a sacrifice fly.
The `Jacks answered back with three more runs in the top of the third, pushing the lead to 5-1. Long capped the inning with his fourth home run of the season, a two-run bomb to dead center field. But the cushion was quickly cut into by the Lions in their half of the third. Justin Boudreaux led off with a first-pitch solo home run for their first run, before Southeastern got to within a run at 5-4 with an RBI single from Josh Cryer that was followed by an RBI double from McCants.
Jared Schrom then came in for the `Jacks to start the fourth, and sat Southeastern down in order. But Ty Summerlin took the first pitch of the bottom of fifth from Schrom over the left-center field fence for a leadoff home run that knotted the score at 5-5.
In the sixth, Sean Meyers gave the lead back to SFA at 6-5 with his fourth hit of the night, an RBI single that scored Gardner from third with nobody out. The lead did not last long though, as Southeastern took advantage of some good fortune in its half of the sixth. Boudreaux tied it up with a sacrifice fly that scored Sparacino from third, but it looked as though SFA would minimize the damage when Alex Moshier struck out Trey Martin for the second out with the go-ahead runner on third. SFA then intentionally walked Summerlin to get to Brandon Street who hit what looked to be a routine grounder to shortstop, but third base umpire Brian Martin was positioned in front of him and the ball hit squarely off of his leg for a dead-ball infield hit that loaded the bases. That set things up for Cryer, who let Moshier's second pitch glance off of his left arm for a go-ahead RBI.
But once again SFA responded with the bats, lighting up Chris Cappo in the top of the seventh for three runs on three hits to take the lead back at 9-7. Two of those three hits went out of the park, with Joe Staley giving the lead back to the `Jacks with a monster home run into the right-field parking lot with a man on. Gardner delivered a solo homer two batters later for his fifth hit of the night. One inning later Brian Ferguson tripled and scored on a wild pitch, giving the `Jacks what looked to be a comfortable lead heading into the bottom of the eighth.
However, the Lions had other ideas and it got started when Boudreaux led off the eighth with his second hit of the night. Pinch hitter Cody Gougler then became the fourth Lion to get hit by a pitch on the night before Chris Court struck out Summerlin for the innings first out with runners on second and third. Street then chopped an infield single toward the right side that trimmed the lead to 10-8 and forced Johnny Cardenas to summon Folmer from the bullpen. But his first pitch was wild and put runners at second and third once again before he hit Cryer - the third time on the night that Cryer was hit by a pitch. McCants then cut the lead to 10-9 with an RBI groundout with the bases loaded and one batter later Chris Ernest gave Southeastern its second lead of the night with a two-run single to left-center field - his only hit of the night.
Chris Franklin then came in for the Lions and made it interesting by walking the leadoff man, but set the next three `Jacks down in order to nail down his 12th save of the season.
The `Jacks and Lions conclude their series at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Brett Rogers will throw for SFA, while the Lions have yet to announce a probable starter. The game can be heard live on KSFA 860 AM.