SUGAR LAND, Texas – Lamar left-handed pitcher Lance Warren pitched 8.2 scoreless innings and got plenty of run support in the early innings to help the Cardinals to a 10-3 victory over McNeese State in an elimination game at the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday at Constellation Field.
Warren replaced starter Will Hibbs with one out in the bottom of the first after Hibbs gave up three runs on one hit, a walk and a hit batsman. Hibbs got out of the inning and Cardinal bats came to life to tie the score 3-3.
Lamar broke the tie with three runs in the third and added three more runs in the fourth and another in the sixth. In the third, V.J. Brunner doubled in Brad Picha for the first run. Both Cowboys errors came in the third and led to two more runs to make it 6-3 for Lamar. In the fourth, Brunner drove in another run, scoring Aaron Olivas. That chased McNeese starter Bryce Kingsley, the Southland Conference freshman of the year, out of the game. Garret Autrey followed with a double to left center field to score two more runs and extend the lead to 9-3.
Brunner finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. He was one of five Cardinals with two hits. Autrey drove in four runs, including two in the first inning and two in the fourth. Dornak drove home Olivas in the sixth for the final run, one of three he scored in the contest. Lamar had 13 hits and overcame three errors.
McNeese designated hitter Michael Sullivan had two hits and an RBI to pace the Cowboys who managed only four hits in the game.
Warren allowed three hits and struck out four with only one walk in going the distance for Lamar. He improved to 3-2 with the win. Kingsley was tagged with the loss and dropped to 8-6. He allowed nine runs on eight hits and struck out four with three walks before leaving the game with two outs in the fourth.
Lamar awaits the loser of Thursday night’s game between No. 4 seed Southeastern Louisiana and top-seeded Sam Houston State. That game will be Friday at noon. McNeese ended its season with a 23-31 overall record.
Lamar Head Coach Jim Gilligan
On Lance Warren
“It was a one man bullpen. I didn’t think he could go nine, but he went 8.2 and he did pretty good. I feel sorry for Will (Hibbs), the first two guys he wasn’t ready, then he gets a strike out then that little slow roller that is thrown away and if that doesn’t happen he might have stayed in there. What a job (Lance) Warren did. He did a fabulous job. He was tired in the sixth and I told him just to relax and to throw it up there and let your defense play it behind you. That’s what he did and he learned a little bit about pitching today.”
On hitting and advancing in the tournament
“We have to continue to hit great, it will help us move on. Pitching wise we are out of gas and we have to get more mileage wise out of the guys we have. If you don’t win straight out in these tournaments, someone is going to have to do it for you and Warren stepped up and did more than he was called upon to do all year.”
On rebounding from tough loss last night
“I don’t think it’s that tough. I’ve been through a lot of situations like that, but we got enough sleep. It was the tough luck loss part, you know, when you lose one that you felt like you were in for seven innings and you let it get away for one reason or another. We showed quite a bit of character today in that respect (bouncing back) and we can swing the bat and we are dangerous and we were dangerous today.”
Lamar pitcher Lance Warren
On pitching 8.2 innings
“I wasn’t expecting to go that long. I’ve come in on some situations, G (Coach Gilligan) gets me in there and I think my longest out this season is four innings. I was trying to do what I can. We had to win today and I was trying to get ahead of people.”
“I’m pretty exhausted right now I’m not going to lie. It was getting pretty hot towards the end. Towards the beginning, the sweat on my hands really wasn’t a factor. Now, I’m ready to get some ice and relax. I’m pretty tired after that.”
On team’s offense
“It definitely helps the confidence. Run support is always nice and as a pitcher you are looking for that and our guys did their job.”
McNeese State Head Coach Terry Burrows
On senior class
“These kids played hard and I know they are disappointed; I am too, but you have to tip your hat to the Lamar kid. He came in and did a great job and kept them in the whole game, obviously. Best of luck to them and everyone else in the tournament. We’ll pick up our pieces and move on.”
On direction of program
“I think it’s going the same way that everyone hopes it is. We got into the tournament and then its anybodies game. There are some things we need to work on and some areas we need to improve on and we’ll pick up and move on.”