A top player and higher seeds grabbed the limelight Wednesday in opening day action in the Southland Conference baseball tournament at Bear Stadium.
Southeastern Louisiana sent Northwestern State into the losers bracket Wednesday morning with a 5-3 victory. In the afternoon game, top-seeded Sam Houston State overpowered Lamar, 10-4.
Losers bracket action begins at 9 a.m. Thursday.
SE LOUISIANA 5, NORTHWESTERN ST. 3
The 2014 Newcomer of the Year Andrew Godbold knocked in four runs on two hits to help lead the Lions to victory.
Godbold drove in the game’s first run with a single to up the middle that scored Jacob Seward in the top of the first inning. The Lions got three more runs in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie on a bases-loaded double by Goldbod that scored Jacob Williams, Seward and Jameson Fisher. The Lions added an insurance run in the ninth off Kennon Menard single, driving in Sam Roberson.
Southeastern starter Andro Cutura, a first-team all-conference selection, gave up two runs on six hits while striking out five. He earned the win to improve to 10-2 on the year. Freshman of the Year Adam Oller was pegged with the loss after giving up four runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked four in dropping to 6-2.
"It was huge performance from Cutura," said Southeastern coach Matt Riser. "He went out and did exactly what a Friday night guy does. He dominated the zone and kept competing. He got better as the game went on. Hats off to him. He is a true competitor. Second to none."
Northwestern scored runs in the second, fourth and ninth innings. Nathan Lyons accounted for all three runs. Lyons scored the first run off a fielders’ choice by Joel Atkinson and followed by scoring the second run off a single by designated hitter Nick Heath in the fourth. After Chase Daughdrill tripled in the ninth, Lyons notched his RBI off a fielders’ choice groundout.
The Demons take on Lamar at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. Southeastern faces Sam Houston State at 4 p.m.
SAM HOUSTON St. 10, LAMAR 4
Sam Houston State scored seven runs in the fourth to advance to Friday’s winners bracket game against Southeastern Louisiana.
After Lamar took a 3-0 lead, the Bearkats took control of the game in the fourth. Anthony Azar, the league’s player of the year, picked up the first and last hit of the inning as the Bearkats sent 12 hitters to the plate. Azar, who went 4 for 5, had a single and a double in the inning. His two-out double came with the bases loaded and plated the final two Sam Houston runs in the inning. Azar led all hitters in the contest with three RBI while scoring twice.
"We have played Lamar four times this year, and they have done the same thing on us all four times (with jumping out early)," said Sam Houston coach David Pierce. "They are very aggressive early in the game, and they execute very well. We had a freshman pitcher (with Dylan Ebbs) out there, and I think he did a good job with giving us a chance and being able to extend and go into the fifth inning."
In the fourth, our guys at some great at bats in that inning. We just tried to get the next guy to home plate and we caught a couple of breaks."
Lamar added its final run in the fifth inning and Sam Houston added two runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth to complete the game’s scoring.
Sam Houston reliever Nolan Riggs picked up the win after three innings of work. Riggs, who replaced starter Dylan Ebbs in the fifth inning, did not give up a run while sacrificing two hits and one walk to improve to 3-0.