Lions earn second series sweep as superb bullpen leads team past EIU

After opening the season with a series sweep over Indiana State and a win last Wednesday over University of Louisiana Lafayette, the Lions completed their second series sweep of the season over the weekend versus Eastern Illinois Panthers advancing to 7-0 on the year.

Head coach Jay Artigues and the Lions began the series on Friday rolling to a 10-1 victory over the Panthers. Senior pitcher Joseph Koon was provided a generous cushion as the Lions opened the game with a three run first inning, highlight by two RBIs for senior left fielder Cody Gougler.

Koon would go on to secure Friday’s win pitching six shutout inning propelling the Lions to victory.

Saturday’s slate would be a bit tougher for the Lions as one run was the difference in the 3-4 win. With two runs scored in the fourth inning, the Lions held a 3-0 lead. The Panthers responded with a productive fifth inning matching the Lions three runs to tie the game. The Lions entered the bottom the fifth in need of runs, and after a wild pitch moved junior outfielder Harry Slade to second base, senior infielder Jonathan Pace delivered two-out single plating Slade, in what would be the winning run.

“The guys pitched really well and played defense and I’m proud of the poise that they showed,” said Lions head coach Jay Artigues.

By Sunday’s match the Lions had secured the series win, but still had pride to play for. Seven shutout innings pitch by senior pitcher Josh Janway lifted Southeastern to a 1-0 win.

“Josh was outstanding,” said Artigues. “He had a lot of late movement on his fast ball and because of that he a lot of third strike looks and his breaking balls were pretty good as well.”

The Lions lone run was scored by Hebert in the sixth inning batted in by Slade. Junior pitcher Stefan Lopez took the mound in the ninth inning earning his fourth save of the Lions young season.

Gougler finished the series 3-10 with two RBIs, while junior outfielder Harry Slade contributed his one RBI from Sunday’s win. The Lion’s starting pitchers ended the weekend with 18.1 innings pitched and 14 strikeouts.

On a larger scale, junior shortstop Brock Hebert ranks second in batting average (.522), second in on base percentage (.607), second in runs scored (10), third in hits (12), and first in slugging percentage (.792).  On the mound, junior closer Stefan Lopez, has managed five saves, the most of any pitcher in the SLC. Lopez was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America’s  (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year preseason watch list.

The Lions baseball team returns to action today versus Tulane on the road at Turchin Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

“It a fun rivalry, they have a good club this year, so we’re definitely going to be ready when we get down there,” said Artigues.