HAMMOND — As Drew Avans watched his game-winning double bounce off the left-field wall, all of the frustrations built up over the past two days finally subsided.
Until that point, Southeastern Louisiana was on the cusp of being swept for only the second time under coach Matt Riser. The Lions already lost to UNO for the first time since 2004, and heading into the eighth inning Sunday, no Southeastern player other than Jameson Fisher recorded a hit.
But none of that mattered when Avans threw the “Lion Up” hand gesture toward his teammates as Fisher and Carson Crites rounded toward home to give Southeastern a 4-3 lead it held until the end at Alumni Field.
“There was a little frustration that had built up between the two previous games, and people were trying to do a little too much in certain situations,” Avans said. “But when it mattered the most, we handled business. It was a big relief. It’s a big weight lifted off our chest.”
Neither offense found much consistency, with only three innings featuring scoring. It was worse for the Lions (36-15, 22-5 Southland), who finished with only four hits, including Fisher’s two.
Fisher, who had the third-best batting average in the country entering this weekend, led the Lions with a 7-of-11 showing this weekend and drove in five runs, including a two-run double in the first inning of Sunday’s game.
UNO (30-20, 14-13) surged for 25 runs in the first two games of the series but was confined to only one inning of scoring Sunday, a three-hit, three-run rally in the fourth.
“We probably let our edge up a little bit after taking the series,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “But that’s no excuse. You have to come in here every day and not take games for granted.”
Outside of that one inning, Southeastern pitchers Domenick Carlini and Kade Granier combined to allow three hits and strike out five. Granier (4-0) was awarded the win after two innings of flawless work, lowering his ERA to 0.28.
“(Carlini) knew this was going to be a day when we had to grind it out on the plate and knew that they couldn’t get any more insurance runs,” Riser said. “And I don’t know what else you can say about Kade Granier. He’s the horse. He’s the man. There’s a reason he’s closing games out.”
Southeastern can clinch its second straight Southland regular-season title and the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament with two wins against Central Arkansas next weekend. Sam Houston State is a game behind in the standings, but the Lions hold the tiebreaker.