For Matt Riser and his Southeastern baseball team, it was a season to remember, ended by two innings they would like to forget.
The Lions saw their season come to an end on Sunday with a 9-5 loss to Houston at Alex Box Stadium.
Six of those runs came in the second inning, when Southeastern uncharacteristically made four errors — one by first baseman Sam Roberson, one by Jacob Williams and two by shortstop Kennon Menard.
They finished the game with six errors, all of them coming in the first four innings before they settled down defensively.
The record for errors in a tournament regional is nine, set by Clemson in 1954, Penn State in 1955 and Jackson State in 1989.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Southeastern catcher Jameson Fisher said. “Especially seeing guys not make plays that they always make nine times out of 10. Some plays 10 plays out of 10. There’s nothing else much to say. It was just one of those games.”
It came just two days after a similarly disastrous inning Friday in the regional opener against host LSU.
In that one, the Lions were tied at 4 with the Tigers but committed a pair of errors in the eighth inning that eventually led to four LSU runs.
“We have been playing good baseball for a couple weeks, and again, it was just an inning that got away from us,” Riser said. “At the end of the day, it’s baseball and it happens. As we talk about, we harp on the fundamentals of baseball and that’s why.”
But despite the miscues, Riser had plenty to be proud of in his first season as head coach.
The Lions made it to their first regional in 20 years after winning the Southland Conference tournament.
On Sunday, they won their first postseason game since 1992 when they beat Bryant University 2-1 in a 10-inning elimination game. The Lions were nearly flawless in that one. They committed just one error in a game that ended when right fielder Andrew Godbold gunned down a runner at the plate. The play earned the No. 5 spot on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Top 10 Saturday night.
It was just the second regional victory in school history and first since beating Hawaii 22 years ago in the Tucson regional.
“We made errors, and they capitalized on them,” Godbold said. “But we never stopped competing, and as you can see, we were in it until the last out.”
The Lions trailed 9-2 before scoring two runs in the eighth and another in the ninth with the potential game-tying run, Sam Roberson, on deck. Roberson finished the tournament 6 for 11, including a two-run against LSU.
Of the everyday position players who started for the Lions in the regional, none were seniors. So there was plenty of reason for optimism among the Lions fans who saluted their team with a standing ovation at the end of the 38-25 season.
“The foundation is laid,” Godbold said. “We are headed in the right direction. We showed the world that we can compete. Just because we are a small school doesn’t mean that we are not capable of competing on this large scale. I don’t like the fairy tales. I don’t think that because we are little school that we should be satisfied to win one game. It was a great season. I wish we would have come out on top. I think we had what it takes, but just had a couple bad breaks.”
Well, a couple bad innings.