It was another classic postseason matchup between two NJCAA heavyweights as LSU Eunice’s mettle helped TKO Pearl River 6-4 on Tuesday at Bengal Stadium. The Bengals (51-3) moved on in winner’s bracket play at the Region 23 Tournament where they will have MACCC regular season champion East Central on Wednesday at 3:30 PM in the tournament’s marbles game.
It was a battle of contrasting styles as LSU Eunice used the timely hit in addition to clutch pitching and defensive stops to secure the thrilling victory. The Bengals were able to grab hold of the game early as two opening walks and a Parker Coley single loaded the bases to start the game. A wild pitch, sacrifice fly and two-out Tanner Vadnais RBI single gave LSUE a critical 3-0 lead after the opening bell.
Connor Benge and the Bengals would keep the Wildcats at bay the first three innings of the game, using a pair of double plays to end threats in the first and second innings. PRCC loaded the bases in the second before a line drive to Korey Cooper induced an unassisted double play.
Pearl River finally broke through in the fourth as the Wildcats crept to within a run after a two-run frame, highlighted by a solo home run to begin the inning. The two teams would trade blows as LSUE responded with a pair of runs of its own in the top of the fifth as Korey Cooper delivered a two-run, two-out single, only to be answered by a two-run home run by Pearl River in the bottom half of the inning.
That’s when Connor Benge put on a gutsy performance to get the final six outs of his seven-inning outing. Benge retired the last seven batters he faced in a row to put him in position to grab his 11th win of the season.
LSUE added an insurance run late after Dawson Willis delivered another two-out run, as his groundball snuck through the infield and allowed Grant Mangrum to score to make it a 6-4 Bengals’ advantage. Four of the team’s six runs would come with two outs in the inning.
The Bengals would have to go the distance against Pearl River as the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth. It would take Jacob Moore the first pitch of his relief appearance to produce an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play and send the Bengal dugout into jubilation. Moore picked up where he left off in the ninth, working around an error to squash PRCC and pick up his sixth save of the campaign.
Alexander Saunier, Coley and Cooper each had multi-hit games as Cooper drove in a team-high 3 RBIs in the victory.
Press release by LSUE Bengals Athletics