PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana College baseball team needed a rally, trailing 8-7 as the Wildcats came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning, and did they ever, putting up seven runs in the frame to blow the game wide open and complete the series win over the Alma Scots 14-8 Sunday afternoon at Billy Allgood Field at Legacy Stadium.
The Wildcats were first onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on second and third, Alex Ashby dropped a base hit into left that allowed Keelyn Johnson to come home from second base just before the final out of the inning was recorded at third base. But that only started a bit of back-and-forth ball as the teams traded the lead over the next few innings. Alma put two across in the second to take a 2-1 lead before LC answered in the third with a pair of runs of their own. Ashby rolled a ground ball to shortstop that allowed Christian Vandergrift to score from third and tie the game, and then Beau Freeman flew a ball out to center deep enough to allow Keelyn Johnson to tag and score from third and give the Wildcats the lead back at 3-2 after three innings of play.
Alma immediately took the lead back in the fourth inning, plating another pair for a 4-3 Scots advantage, but LC answered by tying the game in the bottom half on an RBI single by Vandergrift that brought home, Brodie Falgoust. However, the Scots looked to pull away in the sixth inning by bringing home four runs to take an 8-4 lead.
Undeterred by the four-run deficit, the Wildcats clawed right back into the game. Vandergrift skied a ball to shallow right-center that was in just the right spot to allow Falgoust to tag and score from third. Then, the big shot in the inning came from Hunter David, who launched a pitch into the jet stream and went screaming over the right-field wall to pull the Wildcats back within a run at 8-7 at the end of the inning.
After neither team scored in the seventh, the Wildcats came to bat in the eighth still needing a run and then the flood gates opened for LC. With the bases loaded, it was Ashby again that got the scoring started as he watched ball four go by for the base on balls that forced in Christian Vandergrift to tie the score. Beau Freeman came up next and also took ball four that brought home Keelyn Johnson to give the Wildcats the lead. Jacob Fowler gave the Wildcats some breathing room as his shot a pitch back up the middle the plated both Ashby and Tyrese Morgan. Dane Petersen kept the train moving as he smashed a pitch to deep left that allowed Fowler and Freeman to both touch home. Brodie Falgoust capped the scoring with a single to right which allowed Petersen to come in for the game’s final run.
“It was good to see the guys come out and rally again, which is something they’ve done all weekend,” said Louisiana College Head Coach Mike Byrnes. “Got down one game in the series and fought back with the big win last night, and again today got down late but knew they could rely on each other and fight back and they did. We took on a good team this weekend and come out of it with two quality wins. This was a good way to open our season.”
Sr. CF Brodie Falgoust and Jr. SS Keelyn Johnson each had four hits in Sunday’s series finale with Johnson eventually coming around to score three times while Falgoust was credited with an RBI and touched home twice himself. Sr. LF Christian Vandergrift went three of four with a sac fly, two RBI and scored twice. Jr. RF Alex Ashby had only one hit but drew two walks, stole a base, drove in three runs, and scored once. Sr. C Hunter David’s home run was his second of the weekend, and second of the season.
Jr. P Dylan Roark (1-0) came on in the sixth inning and threw 3.1 scoreless innings to pick up his first victory of the season, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out four of the 12 batters he faced. Sr. P Andrew Robinson started the game and went four innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, all earned, with two strikeouts and a walk.Fr. P Chase Gardner gave up four hits and four runs, all earned, walked two and struck out one in 1.2 innings of work.
But Sunday’s game marked the end of a historic weekend for Coach Byrnes, who joined the 400-career coaching wins club on Saturday. He says the milestone isn’t one that shows what he’s about, but the drive to win of the players who have dawned the orange and blue for him. “We’ve had a number of great players come to LC during my time here, continued Byrnes, “and they’ve been the ones who have made this place where winning is expected from one class to the next. 400 wins is a great milestone to hit, but it’s all about the players, past and present, who have made this possible.”
The Wildcats (2-1) conclude their season-opening homestand on Friday evening as Centenary comes down to start a split three-game series. The first pitch of Friday’s single-game against the Gents (3-0) is set for 4:00 P.M. at Billy Allgood Field at Legacy Stadium.
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