One more day. That’s all Sunday gives Southeastern Louisiana for its troubles.
The Lions waited the better part of two days to lose its first game of the Baton Rouge regional 7-2 against Rice on Sunday morning, nearly 41 hours after the original start time on Friday.
The afternoon wasn’t any more relaxing as Southeastern spent the day holding off a potential comeback by Utah Valley State to win 3-2 in the first elimination game of the tournament, a game that finished more than 27 hours after it was originally supposed to start Saturday.
But however sloppy it was, both in terms of play and field conditions, the skies above Alex Box Stadium cleared just long enough for the Lions to extend their season for one more day.
“Probably the biggest thing … was handling the ups and downs,” Southeastern coach Matt Riser said. “It’s just handling those emotions going up and down, and that’s what you’ve got to do. Once you get to this level and you start to try to play for championships, keep moving on, keep your season going, you have to be able to handle those.”
Riser said he thought Southeastern did a better job of handling those ups and downs in the second game, despite the Lions struggling to prevent a comeback push by Utah Valley.
Southeastern started the game with a three-run first inning, but only one of those runs were earned and the Lions scored no runs on three hits the next eight innings.
Utah Valley pitcher Jackson Cofer said the early struggles were mostly because of the nervousness about playing in front of such a large crowd, but that he was able to settle down in the later innings — something he wishes he could have done sooner.
The Southeastern pitching staff didn’t suffer from the same issues as Cofer quelled the Wolverines comeback before too much damage was done.
Senior Lions pitcher Domenick Carlini allowed only two runs on two hits while striking out four.
His only significant slip-up was a solo home run by UVU first baseman Spencer Gothberg in the fourth inning.
After that, Carlini retired the next eight batters before being replaced by Josh Green, who allowed one hit in three innings.
“I wasn’t worried if they hit another one,” Carlini said. “I was just trying to get contact and let my team make plays because they have been making plays all day, so I wasn’t worried about the home run.”
Sunday became a do-or-die situation for the Lions after losing the first game to Rice, in a first-round matchup that started Saturday morning but was postponed because of rain in the seventh inning.
Southeastern started Sunday down 4-1, and got out to a good start after scoring a quick run on a rally immediately after play resumed, but a three-run, eighth inning by Rice sent the Lions into the loser’s bracket.
Arguably the most beneficial thing to come out of the loss was the fact pitcher Payton Robinson, who was on the mound when play was suspended, was able to restart play on Sunday and save Southeastern from reaching deeper into its bullpen.
The Lions only threw three relievers in the first two games, which allows senior Kyle Cedotal to start on Monday and saves closer Kade Granier for another elimination game.
“Obviously having to take Mac (Sceroler) out in the sixth, bring (Robinson) in, that’s where I thought the rain helped us,” Riser said. “We were able to — instead of after however long the rain delay was yesterday — we were able to bring him back on a day’s rest, so to speak, and not have him bounce back after a five-hour rain delay.”