Conference play starts with Pontchartrain Bowl victory

Redshirt senior outfielder Trenon Trosclair successfully attempts a bunt play in the game against University of New Orleans. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The Lions baseball team completed a busy week with four wins out of five games and earned a Pontchartrain Bowl trophy.

During the past week, the Lions were able to beat the University of Toledo 7-6 and Tulane University 13-12. They also secured the Pontchartrain Bowl victory against the University of New Orleans with two wins and a loss.

Head Coach Matt Riser gave his thoughts on his team’s winning start to the Southland Conference against UNO.

“It’s good to get off the right foot and get the series win,” said Riser. “If we want to win championships, we’ve got to sweep weekends.”

Riser was also critical about his team’s inability to finish the series with a win late in the weekend.

“Unfortunately, we had a let down there in the third game and didn’t finish it off,” said Riser. “We’ve got to get better on that Sunday game. It’s four weeks in a row now we’ve lost in a Sunday game. That’s not very encouraging. Sunday is more of a grinder day that you kinda go out there and tough one out. I know we did a double here on Saturday, but it’s that last game of the weekend that we’ve just got to get more locked in and focused and have some more success.”

Redshirt junior pitcher Carlisle Koestler played a key role in securing the second win and the series against UNO. He described the team’s performance during the series.

“I thought we did really good,” said Koestler. “Earlier today, we came out with energy and fire. I think we kind of lollygagged for the second one, weren’t focused, and they shoved us around.”

The last game of the series was moved forward to Saturday due to expected inclement weather on the next day. Riser shared the process of the scheduling change and how he worked with UNO’s head coach Blake Dean to form a mutual decision.

“Obviously, we got to do everything in our willpower as professionals to make sure we get these games in regardless of the situation or the circumstances,” said Riser. “Coach Dean agreed with us on the call and made sure we went ahead.”

The week has also been highlighted with the Lions coming from behind to complete the victories. Riser shared his views on the team’s character, but pointed out that the team needs to play better to not be behind in the ball game.  

“There’s no doubt they compete,” said Riser. “We just got to figure out a way to do it the right way sometimes. I think there are some scenarios where we shouldn’t be in that situation because we could have a played a little bit better defense or extended things offensively or pitch it better. But, at the end of the day, you got to get wins, and you got to learn along the way. I’d much rather learn while we win.”

Koestler echoed Riser’s views in describing the team’s ability to play competitively as a unit.

“I think we never give up, and that’s the key to our team and our strength,” said Koestler. “We’re really close as a squad. We work on that during the fall, and we’re really close like a family.”

With the start of the conference play, Riser described the way he wants his team to perform in he upcoming games.

“Each club has a different identity,” said Riser. “The club’s gonna take over two personas of mindset, one of the head coach in myself. I’ve been here for the past five years. The other is the leadership. I think our leadership’s got to do a better job of showing up, not being so cerebral and trying to be overanalytical. They’ve got to do a better job of just going back to trusting themselves and being comfortable with what they’ve done. The success they’ve had in the past will come back to them.”

The team will continue their nonconference play against Purdue University today at home at 6 p.m. and travel to Mississippi State University tomorrow.

“Two really good clubs,” said Riser. “Purdue’s been on fire, playing really well. They can really swing it. So, we’re gonna have to pitch it on Tuesday and hit with them. We’ve got to get back to work on Monday, get a lot better offensively because the showing we’ve had this past week was not very impressive. We’ve got to get some guys back in the lineup to have some success. We’ll have our hands full Tuesday and Wednesday. The quality starts this week.”