Lions sweep UTA and improve to third in SLC

After thunderstorm warnings in Tangipahoa Parish led to the postponing of the Lions game versus Jackson State on Wednesday, head coach Jay Artigues and his Lions baseball crew opened a three-game series versus conference opponent UT Arlington on Friday.

The Lions earned the series sweep on Saturday and ended the series with a triumphant win to close out on Sunday afternoon.

The sweep marked the Lions second consecutive series sweep over a conference opponent, moving them into third place in the conference after dropping a pair of games versus Nicholls State more than a week ago.

The series opener on Friday saw the Lions earn an 8-7 victory. Southeastern jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but the Mavericks responded with four runs in the fifth inning, eventually propelling them to a 7-4 lead over the Lions. Fast bats and superb defense helped the Lions to score four unanswered runs as a two-run eighth inning tied the game.

After a third consecutive shutout inning by senior reliever Joseph Koon, junior outfielder Harry Slade led off the ninth inning with a single. Slade would be driven in two batters later as senior first baseman Jonathan Pace drove in Slade with a one-out single down the right field line, leading the Lions to the one point victory.

“We need to pitch with more toughness on Friday nights and I think that’s what we did,” said Artigues. “For being such young guys, they really showed a lot of maturity.”

In Saturday’s contest, outstanding pitching from starter Jordan Hymel and closer Stefan Lopez sparked the Lions 4-0 shutout victory and a series-clinching win. Hymel recorded his fourth win of the season pitching a career high 8.2 innings, while Lopez took a conference leading eighth save of the season.

“Jordan was outstanding, he pounded the strike zone and let our defense play behind him, and when you have a guy like Stefan Lopez, it makes a coach real comfortable to go to that bullpen,” said Artigues.

With the series win intact, Southeastern entered Sunday’s game in need of motivation. By the sixth inning, the Lions found themselves down 3-1. Southeastern found life in the seventh inning, scoring five runs. Senior right fielder Cody Gougler doubled off of the center field wall with bases loaded scoring two as the Lions rallied to a 6-3 victory.

Southeastern will return to action with consecutive non-conference home games, Tuesday versus Tulane at 6 p.m. and Wednesday versus Alcorn State at 6 p.m. before heading west to Beaumont, Texas for a weekend series versus conference opponent Lamar Cardinals.