Cardinals complete comeback, win 12-11 over No. 5 LSU
Special To The Record
A crowd 3,563 people watched as what looked to be a Top 5 team overpowering its opponent turned into a wild comeback, twice. It watched as the Lamar University battled back from being down 8-0 after 1 ½ innings to down the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers Wednesday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium, its second win over Top 25 team in three days.
Several things went into the Cardinals (5-0) chipping away at the lead that size, but at the forefront had to be Brett Brown’s appearance on the mound. Several things went backwards for Lamar in the top of the second inning in which the Tigers (3-1) scored eight runs, but Brown entered the game and held the LSU offense at bay.
He took the mound with the bases loaded and only one out, and quickly ended the inning with a fielder’s choice play at the plate and strikeout. From there he pitched four scoreless innings, three had the Bengal Tigers sat down in order.
“Brett Brown was phenomenal today. He made his mind up that he was going to become a pitcher. He is legit,” said head coach Jim Gilligan. “He did what he did against LSU, he didn’t do it against a bottom 50 team. This is one of the best teams in the country.”
He really held LSU down while Lamar continued to chip away from the huge deficit. Jake Nash, who picked a great time to break out of his cold spell, knocked in the tying run with a single through the left side that scored Stijn van der Meer and Robin Adames, who turned out to be the offensive hero later in the contest.
In the very next at-bat, Cutter McDowell doubled home the go-ahead and 10th run in Jacoby Middleton and Jake Nash that capped of a five-run sixth. Nash, who entered the contest with a .125 hitting average, had two base knocks and drew a walk that set up a key play in the eighth.
McDowell also had a two-hit performance with two runs and four driven in. He had a huge two-run homer to centerfield in the fifth inning cut the lead to 8-6.
“The guys stayed in the game and pecked away, and the five-run inning really made the difference for us right there,” said Gilligan.
It didn’t take LSU long to respond with three in the top of the seventh. Brown took the mound again, showing his fatigue and allowed three-straight hits, including a two-run single from LSU first baseman Greg Deichmann that scored Bryce Jordan and Michael Papierski. The senior right-hander ended his night with five tough innings pitched and three runs allowed on five hits and two strikeouts.
Jimmy Johnson took the mound with a man on second and one out and immediately struck his first batter out. Nine-hole hitter Cole Freeman came through with the two-out magic on a single to right field that scored Deichmann to take a 11-10 lead.
The Cardinals threatened in the seventh with the bases loaded, but reliever Parker Bugg came on and forced a groundout. Heading to the eighth, Johnson stayed out and stranded a runner at third with a clutch shallow fly ball and strikeout. Johnson ended up with his first career win on 1.2 frames of work and two strikeouts.
The drama-filled LU eighth inning started with back-to-back walks to Nash and McDowell. Reid Russell came up with single to right center to load the bases. LSU elected to change pitchers at that point and go with Caleb Gilbert, and it started to look like the right move.
He took the mound with the bases loaded and no outs and turned it into a bleak bases loaded two out situation, but that is when freshman Robin Adames stepped to the plate. He took two strikes, both fouled off, but he didn’t worry and sent a curve ball back up the middle to score Nash and McDowell to go up 12-11.
“A freshman walking up there. He had been struggling until that double he had earlier that scored a run,” said Gilligan. “I’m proud of the boys I really am. They did a great job.”
Adames’ run-scoring double started the five-run sixth when he knocked in Byrndan Arredondo, who drew a one-out walk.
Enrique Oquendo took over in the ninth inning looking to earn his second save of the year, and had to take on the fifth, sixth and seventh batters. He plunked the first one and induced back-to-back fly outs before striking out the last batter of the game on three-straight pitches.
Arredondo launched his first dinger in the second inning to get the Cardinals on the board. It was a two-run shot to left that scored Trey Silvers. LU’s third run of the game was in the third when Brendan Satran started off the inning with a double down the left field line and was sent home on Middleton’s double to right field.
Middleton, reigning Southland Conference Hitter of the Week, notched his seventh RBI in two games.
The eight-run LSU second inning escalated quickly after eight-straight batters reached base, five on base knocks. The key hit in the frame was Lochridge’s three-run home run.
Arrendondo joined Nash and McDowell with a multi-hit game, second multi-hit game. He was behind McDowell in RBI, three, and tied him in runs scored. Nash scored three.
It’s the first time since 2010 that LU started the season off 5-0, and have already downed two ranked opponents this season. With 10 of the 12 runs scored on two outs Wednesday, the Cardinals have 34 runs on the season and 25 with two outs.
LU will look to continue the streak this weekend when they welcome North Dakota State (3-0) to Vincent-Beck Stadium. The first game of the four-contest series is slated to start at 6 o’clock Friday night.