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Slow start too much for LSUA to overcome in season-ending loss to Freed-Hardeman

Brandon Noel
Brandon Noel(Aimee Benoit)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 8:19 PM CDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Ok. (LSUA) - The LSUA ball team could not dig out of an early hole, as it saw its season end with a 6-4 loss to No. 20 Freed-Hardeman on Tuesday afternoon in the NAIA Tournament.

Six runs in the first three innings by FHU were too much of an obstacle to overcome and the Lions were able to hold on for the win.

LSUA (33-14) made a comeback and had chances to tie or take the lead but couldn’t quite register the big hit to finish the comeback.

The game could not have started any worse for the Generals, as Kent Rooklin hit the first pitch of the game over the left field wall and the Lions took a 1-0 lead.

FHU (38-16), the second seed in the Oklahoma City region, broke open the game in the third inning with a five-spot, as seven consecutive batters reached in the inning following a groundout to open the frame.

Rooklin once again was the igniter, hitting a one-out double that proceeded a big blow, a two-run blast to left center field off the bat of Sean Rooney, to make the score 3-0.

The top three batters—Rooklin, Rooney and Will McCall—did most of the damage for the Lions. The trio combined to go 8-for-13 with four runs scored and three runs driven in.

Christian Presley added an bases loaded walk and William Kelley tacked on a two-run double to put the finishing touches on a five-run inning and knocking LSUA starting pitcher Hunter Meche from the game.

Brandon Noel cleaned up the damage with two consecutive strikeouts to the frame. Noel, the set-up man for the Generals, threw a season-high 4.2 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits and striking out three.

He kept the Generals in the game and cut his ERA to just 2.01 for the season.

While Noel was putting up zeroes, the offense was trying to find its footing, which it found in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally.

After the second out was recorded, Bryson Broussard doubled and came in on an RBI single from Cameron Daigle. Two batters later, Peyton Marcantel hit an RBI single to cut it to 4-2.

That scored stayed until another two-out rally in the seventh, as Jordan Ardoin crushed his eighth home run of the season, scoring Daigle, who had hit a two-out double the at-bat prior.

Ardoin reached base in five of his four of his five plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, as well as drawing a pair of walks. The trio of Daigle, Ardoin and Marcantel went a combined 6-for-12 with three runs scored and four runs driven in.

Two straight singles and a walk followed to load the bases, but Connor Creasy induced a foul pop to first base to end the threat. LSUA left 11 more on base, as the Generals left a combined 23 runners on base in their two NAIA Tournament games.

Creasy tossed 2.1 innings of hitless ball to end the game, earning his fifth save of the season for the Lions, striking out a pair.

FHU had chances to blow the game wide open, but it also left 11 runners on base, including the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings.

The bullpen for LSUA was lights out. The trio of Noel, Austin Manuel and Ian Mullen threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing just four hits and striking out six.

Mullen pitched the final 1.1 innings and did not allow a run and struck out a pair, as he finishes the season with an ERA of 1.74, not allowing a run in his final 13.2 innings (nine appearances) or even a hit in his final six innings (four outings).

The Generals fall just one run shy of tying the record for most runs in a season.

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