Hunter Dozier had two hits and his 10th homer of the year in SFA's loss to SLU.
May 26, 2012
SAN MARCOS, Texas - Ladd Rhodes finished off a 4-for-5 afternoon with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, giving Southeastern Louisiana a 5-4 win over Stephen F. Austin, eliminating the Lumberjacks and propelling the second-seeded Lions to the Southland Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday at Bobcat Ballpark.
SFA's (26-33) season comes to an end with the loss in a game that was the third consecutive walk-off verdict between the teams this season. The `Jacks cranked three home runs in the game, but all solo shots and Lion (39-20) reliever Stefan Lopez helped SLU strand six SFA runners on base, while stranding eight themselves.
Colton Eubanks threw five solid innings in the start, pitching much better than his line showed. The senior logged five frames, allowing four runs on five hits, three of which were the infield variety. Cass Ingvardsen managed to throw 2.2 innings of scoreless relief before Kevin Bishop was tagged with the loss, allowing the winning run in the ninth after coming in to work out of a bases-loaded jam an inning before.
Lopez picked up just his second win of the year, getting his lone strikeout with the go-ahead runner at third base in the top of the ninth before a diving play by Ben Hernandez in foul ground ended SFA's late chance to take the lead.
Hunter Dozier and Freddy Villalobos each finished with a pair of hits, including solo home runs to lead the offense. Max Lamantia had SFA's third homer of the day, marking the second time in four games SFA had three homers in a game in the tournament.
Southeastern took an early lead in the first inning, making Eubanks pay for issuing a leadoff walk to Harry Slade. He moved to second on a grounder and then scored when Brock Hebert smacked a one-out single to left field. But that did not last long as Max Lamantia tied the game at 1-1 on the second pitch of the second inning, leading off the frame with a monster home run over the center-field fence for his fourth homer of the year.
An inning later SLU used small ball to go back in front 2-1 with Ladd Rhodes reaching on an infield single and moving to third on a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt before scoring on a routine grounder by Brent Hoffman. But again, SFA answered in the next half of the inning when three consecutive singles from Rene' Moreda, Zach Benson and Hunter Dozier resulted in an RBI single from Dozier to knot the game at 2-2.
SFA slugged its way to another run in the top of the fourth, taking a 3-2 lead on Freddy Villalobos home run that got into the San Marcos jet stream and crept out over the left-center field wall. But Southeastern answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to go back on top 4-3, using a second RBI ground out from Hoffman and a seeing-eye double from Alex Marse that just stayed inside the third-base bag to score Ladd Rhodes.
But again SFA was able to answer when Dozier smashed his 10th home run and the third of the day by the Lumberjacks, a solo shot to left field with one out in the top of the fifth off of Cutura. From there it turned into a battle of bullpens with the SLU pen putting zeros up in each of the next four frames and the SFA reserves working around allowing five straight leadoff men to reach base for the Lions from the fifth to eighth innings with a pair of double plays in both the seventh and eighth frames.
The `Jacks had their best scoring chance in the top of the ninth when Villalobos drew just the fifth walk of the season from Lopez to open the inning. Ricardo Sanchez then reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt when Lopez dove for the popped-up bunt and had the ball exit his mitt when he hit the ground. Bryce Cummings then bunted the runners up, but Lopez responded by getting pinch hitter Jordon Lenaburg swinging at a high fastball before Hernandez ranged near the home bullpen down the left-field line to make a diving play on a foul ball from Benson to end the rally.
Hernandez then started the SLU rally with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth off of Bishop. Justin Choate then entered in relief and gave up a single to Brock Hebert before a wild play on a grounder to third resulted in Hernandez being thrown out at the plate after an errant throw allowed him to attempt to advance.
But that was just the second out of the inning, and Choate, who had pitched each of the last two days including a six-inning start a day before, followed the play with a four-pitch walk to Cody Gougler to bring up Rhodes who hit a 1-1 pitch off the wall in deep left-center field for the walk-off win.