SAN ANGELO, Tx. (LC) - In a win or go home scenario the Louisiana College baseball team rose to the challenge as they knocked off and eliminated the host and No. 1 overall seed Howard Payne University 8-4 on Friday night. The Wildcats pounced on HPU early and behind solid pitching and stellar defense kept themselves alive in the blue bracket. The Cats will advance to the semi-finals where they will play the loser of the UT Dallas/LeTourneau game Friday evening at 6 p.m.
Putting the frustration of the marathon 29-hour game behind them quickly, the Wildcats jumped on the host team early with three runs in the top of the first. With runners at first and second, Clayton Noakes sent a ball right back up the middle to bring in the first run of the game. Keelyn Johnson followed with a double to right center and Deauton Delgado plated another on a sac fly to right to give LC a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the first.
LC starter Andrew Robinson got the first three batters out in the first, but ran into some early trouble in the second. A walk, base hit, and an error plated a run for the Jackets, then another walk loaded the bases with just one out. A clutch strikeout from Robinson and then a grounder to first would end the threat and limit the damage to just one run.
The Wildcats would have another big inning in the fourth, after two straight 1-2-3 innings at the dish. Delgado would hit a 1-out moonshot home run, the 22nd of his career setting the new career mark for homers at LC, to extend the LC lead to 4-1. After a Dane Pedersen double, Ty Morgan brought him around on a base hit up the middle. Brady Atkins would get an RBI single right back up the chute as well, then eventually come around to score on a wild pitch that made it a 7-1 Wildcat lead.
The Jackets would make things interesting in the fifth, loading the bases with no out and getting a 2-run single and then a balk that would give them three runs and make it a 7-4 game with some momentum and the tying run in the on-deck circle. Robinson would get out the inning with no more damage done with a pair of groundouts but his day would come to an end after a leadoff single in the sixth.
That would be when the LC defense would take over the game, as Konnor McDermott filled the strike zone and his defense worked behind him. The Cats would turn two inning-ending double plays in both the sixth and seventh innings to crush any momentum HPU might have tried to pick up at the plate. LC would pick up an insurance run in the eighth on a flare over second from Noakes with 2-out to give the Cats the 8-4 advantage.
McDermott retired six of the last seven batters he faced before being lifted with 2-out in the ninth for Phillip Vidrine. The senior would get the HPU lead off man to strikeout to end the game and send the Wildcats to the semi-finals of the ASC Blue Bracket.