SUGAR LAND, Texas —No. 2 seed Southeastern Louisiana scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 win over No. 7 UNO in the opening round of the Southland Conference baseball tournament Wednesday at Constellation Field.
Southeastern advances to take on No. 6 McNeese State, a 3-0 winner over Northwestern State, on Thursday at 4 p.m., while UNO will face No. 3 Northwestern State in an elimination game at 9 a.m.
With Southeastern trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, a two-base throwing error by the Privateers put Jacob Seward in scoring position. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, a second error on a fielder’s choice allowed Seward to score and tie the game.
From there, the Lions loaded the bases with one out, and Jameson Fisher hit a deep fly ball to center to score Derrick Mount on a sacrifice fly for the game-winning run.
“We didn’t put a lot of pressure on them offensively, but at the end of the day we got the job done,” Southeastern coach Matt Riser said. “In the last inning when we played the way we’re supposed to play, we played fast, they made some mistakes, and when you do that, you score some runs. They’re a resilient bunch. We had a few situations that didn’t go our way. I thought we made some big pitches in some big situations, too. For those guys to keep us in the ball games was huge.”
Riser said he told his team to keep the ball on the ground heading into the bottom of the ninth.
“We had too many flyouts and too many easy outs,” he said. “(Jameson) Fisher actually crushes one to right field that got held up in the wind and that was a tell for us to put the ball on the ground.”
UNO (30-25) stranded 12 runners, and Hezekiah Randolph was left at third with less than two outs twice as the Privateers stranded a least one runner in seven innings. UNO was also picked off on the base paths twice.
“We had plenty opportunities to score, but we couldn’t get a runner in from third, and we missed a sign on a bunt,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “Things like that at this point of the season are unacceptable and why we can’t win a ball game like that.”
Southeastern’s Kade Granier (5-1), the SLC’s Relief Pitcher of the Year, picked up the win. SLU starter Kyle Cedotal gave up five hits, four runs and walked six in 6.1 innings
UNO starter Riley Hodge matched a season-high with seven innings and limited Southeastern to just three hits. He struck out two and pitched around five walks while throwing 101 pitches. Daniel Martinez (4-4) took his fourth loss while walking a season-high three batters.
“I think in all honesty it was probably Riley’s best start of the season but the runs that were scored were due to falling behind and not getting guys out when we needed to,” Dean said. “When you give this team extra chances, they’re going to capitalize.”
UNO took an early lead on a fielder’s choice with one out as second baseman Samuel Capielano scored in the top of the first inning.
In the third inning, UNO third baseman Preston Marsh singled up the left side to score right fielder Jay Robinson from second base, extending its lead to 2-0.
Southeastern (37-18) loaded the bases in the third inning, and Carson Crites’ sacrifice fly to left field scored shortstop Brennan Breaud to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Lions took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring two runs on two hits and one error.
Seward singled through the left side, advancing right fielder Ryan Byers, who scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 2. Seward scored on a ground out to give the Lions a 3-2 lead.
Back-to-back triples for the Privateers in the top of the fifth from first baseman Dakota Dean and Robinson allowed UNO to take a 4-3 before Southeastern was able to retire the side.
MCNEESE STATE 3, NORTHWESTERN STATE 0: McNeese’s Kaleb Fontenot threw eight scoreless innings including 12 strikeouts, tying his career-high.
McNeese’s catcher Cameron Toole scored in the top of the sixth inning as Connor Crane reached on an error to put the Cowboys on the board.
In the top of the eighth inning, McNeese loaded the bases with one out as Toole picked up a squeeze bunt, scoring Matt Gallier. Rickey Ramirez laid down a bunt, scoring Shane Selman, before retiring the side to lead 3-0.
The Demons loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning with Regan Kaufman at the plate, but the Cowboys picked up a double play to end the game.
Northwestern State turned two double plays to tie Georgia Tech as the top team for most double plays this season with 71.