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LU Baseball takes SLC opener over UNO

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BEAUMONT, Texas – With a perfect game through five innings, a no-hitter through six and a third, and a shutout through eight and a third, Tanner Driskill had himself a night while leading Lamar University (7-23, 3-10 SLC) over the University of New Orleans (14-16, 5-8 SLC) in a 5-1 Southland Conference win on Friday.

Ryan Erickson relieved Driskill for the final inning and two-thirds, striking out four of the five batters he faced.

"Tanner really stepped up for us tonight," said head coach Will Davis. "He dominated on the mound and had an awesome performance. Ryan was just as dominant striking out four in an inning and two thirds. It's pretty easy to win when you get a performance like that. I think we saw evidence that we're getting better tonight in our hitting and our guys are growing up. To do that against the best pitcher in the conference I think is a huge confidence boost for us."

While Driskill managed the UNO bats, facing the minimum in four of his first five innings, Big Red was aggressive at the plate and on the base paths. Philip Ingram got things started with a lead-off single up the middle, and a sac bunt from Grant DeVore advanced him to second. Cole Coker ground out to short but pushed Ingram to third, and Robin Adames joined Ingram on base after a seven-pitch walk. Mitch Andrews collected his first RBI of the season in the next at-bat, slicing an 0-2 pitch through the right side to score Ingram and place Adames on second. Logan LeJeune, Cole Secrest, and Cole Girouard all drew two-out walks, scoring two more runs. After a strikeout ended the inning Lamar led 3-0.

"We had a ton of clutch at-bats tonight," said Davis. "Mitch was terrific in the first and Girouard stepped up in the fifth. Just as important were the at-bats that drew those four walks in the first that scored two runs for us. I was really happy with the way we competed tonight. Once we saw that the zone was tight and that he didn't have it we started going to the take and it paid off for us."

The Cardinals had at least one base runner in each of the next three innings but couldn't capitalize, stranding four. LU wouldn't score again until the fifth when LeJeune smacked a one-out single just over the pitcher's head. Secrest was beaned in the next at-bat to put runners on first and second with one out, and during Girouard's at-bat a failed pickoff allowed LeJeune and Secrest to advance. A double from Girouard scored both Cards to give Lamar a 5-0 lead.

After breaking up the no-hitter in the top of the seventh on a single to right field the Privateers were able to tag Driskill with two more hits in the eighth. The senior from Round Rock, Texas, forced a flyout from the lead-off hitter but allowed a single up the middle to the next batter he faced. In his final at-bat Driskill had a wild pitch that placed the runner on second, and a single deep into right field scored the New Orleans runner. Erickson relieved Driskill and struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Chad McKinney and DeVore singled in the bottom of the eighth but were both stranded, and Erickson sat down the UNO batters in order in the top of the ninth to close the door.

The Cards will go for the series win Saturday with LHP Noah Sills (2-4, 4.03 ERA) facing RHP Kyle Arjona (2-2, 5.76 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. but rain could play a factor. Stay tuned to LamarCardinals.com and @Lamar_Baseball on Twitter for updates.

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