HAMMOND — It looked like Southeastern Louisiana was going to erase a four-run deficit against UNO on Friday as the Lions rallied to tie the game in seventh inning.
But it was Friday the 13th, and Southeastern’s nightmare was only just beginning.
UNO scored six runs in the 10th to turn the first game of the Southland Conference series from a miracle comeback into a blowout loss at home with the Privateers winning 15-9.
“We had a chance in the bottom of the ninth to win it and we didn’t,” Southeastern coach Matt Riser said. “They took the momentum and ran with it. That happens, it’s baseball, it’s Friday the 13th.”
The Privateers (25-19, 13-12 SLC) never trailed and had leads of four runs twice Friday before ultimately winning with an explosive rally in the 10th.
UNO coach Blake Dean said the Privateers acted as if they already lost heading into the ninth inning, which prompted him to tell his players what makes a championship team.
“(We) were down for a few innings there and I said, ‘The difference between championship teams and teams who are not making championship games is that they can respond,’ ” Dean said. “And they responded.”
UNO responded with six runs on five hits, including the go-ahead score by senior third baseman Ray Veit.
Veit hit a two-RBI double with no outs to score teammates Ryan Calloway and Preston Marsh and it was all down hill from there for the Lions.
Friday night tied the Lions’ previous high for hits allowed this season and easily surpassed its record for most runs allowed.
Little went right for Southeastern (35-14, 21-4 SLC) from the beginning of the game as Friday ace Kyle Cedotal allowed four runs in the first inning to put him on track for his worst start of the season.
UNO’s Hezekiah Randolph hit a RBI single to give the Privateers their first lead of the game, but it was catcher Kyle Bracey that ultimately doomed Cedotal when he hit a three-run homer to put the Lions down 4-0.
Cedotal only lasted 2.2 innings in his shortest outing of the season, finishing with five runs on eight hits.
Friday was the fifth consecutive game the Lions’ ace allowed eight hits. He’s given up 24 runs on 40 hits over his past 25 innings pitched.
UNO starting pitcher Riley Hodge finished the game allowing seven runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings. He also walked three and struck out one.
“We didn’t come out with the right mentality to start the game,” Riser said. “Cedotal had a really bad mentality. Almost looked like he was throwing out of the bullpen.
“He’ll learn from it, he’s the seasoned veteran, but we have to go back and compete (Saturday).”
Southeastern pitcher Pat Cashman came in and stopped the bleeding to some degree and allowed the Lions to make their comeback.
The only serious mistake Cashman made was in the fourth when Randolph hit a grand slam with the game tied 5-5.
But Cashman bounced back to retire 11 out the next 12 batters as Southeastern climbed its way back into contention while UNO went scoreless until extra innings.
The Lions rallied in the sixth inning for three runs on four hits, including a momentum shifting play by Jameson Fisher.
With a runner on second and two outs, UNO tried to intentionally walk Fisher, but pitcher Jarred Taylor threw too far inside. Fisher took advantage for an RBI single, pushing the Lions within one run.
Southeastern tied the game in the seventh inning when catcher Sam Roberson hit a double to score Webb Bobo.
The Lions had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Roberson struck out with runners on the corners to send the game to extra innings.
“Any series, especially against these guys, you’ve got to take game one,” Dean said. “That’s a huge load off our backs and now we have the opportunity to take a series.”
The second game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday in New Orleans.