CONWAY, Ark. — Southeastern Louisiana’s Tate Scioneaux struck out eight in 5.1 innings of relief to help spark the Lions to a 9-4 over Central Arkansas in the Southland Conference baseball tournament championship game to claim the school’s first league title.
The win also locked up the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Championship, which will be the Lions’ third overall and first appearance since 1994.
The Lions will find out where they will go in the NCAA tournament on Monday. The tournament selection show will be televised on ESPNU at 11 a.m.
The No. 5 seed Lions (37-23) claimed their first title after reaching the championship game the previous two seasons, including a 4-0 loss in last year’s championship to the Bears. The loss snapped UCA’s eight-game tournament winning streak.
“The kids gave it everything they had because they wanted it,” Southeastern coach Matt Riser said. “This is the ultimate goal. It was a motivating force for us with the last few years being runner-up.”
Scioneaux, the tournament’s most valuable player, came into the game in the fourth inning after the Bears scored four runs. The right-hander gave up four hits and a walk. For the tournament, Scioneaux pitched 11 scoreless innings while striking out 12 while giving up nine hits and two walks. Scioneaux threw 91 pitches to pick up his first save of the year.
“He (Scioneaux) came to me last night and said, ‘Coach, I want the baseball at some point in time tomorrow. I know we are going with Andro (Cutura), but I feel great, and I am ready to go. So if you get the chance to give it to me, I want it.’ You could hear it,” Riser said. “You could hear it was definitely from the heart. It wasn’t just a coach speech or player speech, it was a true genuine ‘I want the baseball.’ And you saw it when he went in there and shut the door.”
Jason Greenleaf (1-0) picked up the win in 1.2 innings, giving up gave up two unearned runs on three hits while striking out one.
Cutura gave up three hits, two runs, one walk and struck out two in two innings as the Lions’ starter.
UCA starter Bryce Biggerstaff (7-6) went 1.2 innings, giving up six runs — four earned — on seven hits and one walk with one strikeout.
Southeastern (37-23) scored six runs in the first two innings.
In the top of the first, the Lions loaded the bases with a Jacob Seward single, Jameson Fisher fielder’s choice error and a Brett Hoffman walk. Daniel Midyett drove in the game’s first run with an infield single. Midyett’s shot hit off Biggerstaff’s glove, but it was too hot from the UCA pitcher to handle, which allowed Seward to score. Fisher scored on Sam Roberson’s grounded out to second base.
Seward and Fisher singled, and Andrew Godbold was hit by a pitch to load the bases again for the Lions in the second inning. Southeastern scored four runs on consecutive two-RBI singles from Hoffman and Midyett.
UCA (32-22) chipped away in the bottom half of the second inning as Tyler Langley and Scott Zimmerle reached to start the inning. After both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Justin Treece, Langley scored on a sacrifice fly by Charles Deckard. Doug Votolato got his eighth hit and fifth RBI of the tournament with an infield single, bringing home Zimmerle to make it 6-2.
The Bears added two more runs in the fourth inning after loading the bases on singles from Deckard and Carson Dowdle. Wesley Hoover reached on a fielding error, and Chris Townsend picked up an RBI after being hit by a pitch, and Nate Ferrell walked to score a run.
“The guys did a great job at the end of the year,” UCA coach Allen Gum said. “We had a moment and got on a good run. Today, things just didn’t go our way. Southeastern Louisiana did a good job. They put pressure on us and took advantage of the mistakes we made. It was their day. ”
The Lions answered with a run the sixth. Jacob Williams doubled, and Fisher singled to center for an RBI and a 7-4 lead.
The Lions puts the game out of reach in the eighth by tacking on two runs with a two-out rally on three consecutive hits from Seward, Fisher and Godbold. Godbold’s single drove in Seward and Fisher.