Autrey with HR in 11th to lift LU Baseball over SFA
BEAUMONT – Garret Autrey’s third hit of the night proved to be his biggest as the senior center fielder belted a solo home run over the right field wall Friday evening at Vincent-Beck Stadium to lift Lamar University to a 4-3 Southland Conference win over Stephen F. Austin.
Autrey’s blast capped a late-game comeback that allowed the Cardinals to open the three-game series with a victory and pull into a tie for first place with SFA atop the conference standings. The two teams will meet Saturday at 2 p.m. before closing the series Sunday afternoon at 1.
“They had been throwing me inside a lot so I was just looking for something inside and I got it and put a good swing on it,” said Autrey about his third long ball of the season. “It was a great feeling to cross home plate with the whole team waiting. We struggled a little bit early but found a way to come back and tie it up.”
Lamar trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom half of the seventh inning despite the pitching of redshirt junior Jonathan Dziedzic. After getting touched up early by the Lumberjacks (23-19 overall, 10-6 in the Southland), Dziedzic settled down and gave the Cardinals nine strong innings of work.
The Cardinals (31-11 overall, 10-6 in the Southland) finally got on the board in the seventh inning off SFA starter Chase Greening. Seth Dornak gave Lamar a leadoff base runner after being hit by a pitch. Autrey then singled to put Dornak on second and Aaron Olivas singled to left to load the bases.
Brett Higginbotham came on in relief for SFA and induced a comebacker by LU catcher Zach Luevanos. Higginbotham threw home wildly and Dornak was able to score to put the Cards’ first run up. Sam Bumpers then grounded into a double play but Autrey scored to cut the ‘Jacks lead to 3-2.
Dornak, who finished 2-for-2 on the night, led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to left center. Joe Arechiga came in to pinch run and moved to third on an Autrey bunt. Olivas then drove a ball to right field and Arechiga was able to slide home with the tying run ahead of the throw from Jackson Hood.
“That was a great ball game,” said LU head coach Jim Gilligan. “They did a great job early in the game of piecing three runs together off Dziedzic. With the wind blowing in and the pitcher on the mound like they had, that makes it tough. But the kids hung in there and swung the bat pretty good.
“I don’t believe in momentum. I believe about one game at a time. This game is over right now and we got a big game coming up tomorrow. The only thing I like is to win so the guys have that sitting in their hip pocket rather than thinking about what they did wrong.”
Ben Coram worked a scoreless 10th inning for the Cardinals and Chase Angelle did the same in the 11th to earn the win and improve to 2-2 on the year. Dziedzic took a no decision after allowing three earned runs on 11 hits with six strikeouts. The left-hander allowed eight hits over the first three innings before settling down.
Cameron Gann took the loss for SFA to fall to 3-5 on the year after facing just two batters in the 11th inning. Greening was charged with two unearned runs and gave the Lumberjacks six innings of work, allowing six hits with five strikeouts.
SFA plated single runs in each of the first three innings to stake itself to a 3-0 lead. Ricardo Sanchez, who went 2-for-4 with a run batted in, drove home the Lumberjacks’ first run with a single to left center that scored Brett Thornell.
Rene Moreda’s single to center in the second inning drove home Mackenzie Handel for the second run of the game, and it was Handel who drove in the ‘Jacks’ final run in the third inning. Handel, who went 3-for-5 on the night, doubled to right field to score Freddy Villalobos.
SFA outhit Lamar 13-8 on the night with five different Cardinals finishing with at least one base hit.
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 11:23 AM CDT