LAKE CHARLES — Southeastern Louisiana scored two runs in the final two innings to defeat McNeese 3-2 on Friday night at Joe Miller Ballpark. The win by the Lions forced a winner take all game three in the Southland Conference Championship Series.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
McNeese led off the game by plating two runs in the top of the first inning.
Braden Duhon led off with a single through the left side of the infield. Payton Harden then reached on a fielder’s choice as Southeastern opted to get Duhon out at second base on the force.
After SLU’s Andrew Landry got Brad Burckel to strike out swinging, Josh Leslie stepped into the batter’s box and laced a single up the middle which home two runs.
McNeese had a few more chances in the next few innings to add to its lead.
After McNeese stranded two runners in the top of the third, SLU threatened in the bottom of the frame.
Cowboys starter Daniel Hecker got two quick outs but then found himself in trouble. Evan Keller reached on an infield single and then Hecker hit the two batters to load the bases.
Hecker got out of the jam by striking out Shea Thomas.
McNeese would strand two more runners in the fourth and Southeastern would again threaten. Hecker again got two quick outs but then gave up back-to-back singles.
Zane Zeppuhar relieved Hecker but walked Bryce Grizzaffi to load the bases. Zeppuhar got out of the jam with getting Keller to fly out.
Southeastern got on the board in the bottom of the fifth.
Preston Faulkner hit a one-out triple up the middle and then scored a deep fly out to right Thomas.
The Lions had an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Keller drew a one-out walk and then was joined on the base paths by Rhett Rosevear who hit a double to right field. McNeese relief pitcher Burrell Jones intentionally walked Faulkner to load the bases.
Jones then got Thomas to strike out swinging and Tyler Finke to fly out to end the threat.
Southeastern tied the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Pierce Leavengood led off with a single into right field and Joe Delaney came in to pinch run. Tristan Welch struck out swinging but reached base on a fielder’s choice and Delaney advanced to third.
Grizzaffi then reached on a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt which scored Delaney. Stone managed to end the threat by getting a fly out and ground out.
Southeastern led off the bottom of the night with back-to-back singles by Faulkner and Thomas. Both runners then advanced on a sac bunt by Finke.
Davis Burgin was brought in from the pen but he walked a batter on five pitches which loaded the bases. Christian Vega was then brought in to face Christian Garcia.
Vega walked Garcia on five pitches and the Lions celebrated the victory.
BIG NUMBER: 23
The two teams struggled to bring runners home in Friday’s night contest. McNeese stranded 11 runners on the base paths while SLU left 12 out there.
BIG NUMBER: 12
SLU snapped McNeese’s conference record of 12 straight SLC Tournament victories.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: PRESTON FAULKNER
The SLU first baseman went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and also drew a walk.
UP NEXT: SLU (29-29) will face off against McNeese (34-22) in the championship series finale on Saturday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.