Five-Run Ninth Inning Pushes Muleriders Past LSU-Shreveport

Courtesy Southern Arkansas University Athletics Department

SHREVEPORT, La. – With the game tied at five-all heading into the ninth inning, the Southern Arkansas baseball team scored five runs in the top of the frame to break the deadlock and push past NAIA perennial power, LSU-Shreveport by a score of 10-5 on Tuesday night at Pilot Field.

“Getting a win here is not easy; they (LSU-Shreveport) have a good ball club, and are hard to beat at home,” said head baseball coach Steve Browning after the game. “It’s a good win for us. Our guys are gaining a lot of confidence in the fact that we are winning these games without clicking on all cylinders, so it shows the type of team we have now, and what we can have as well.”

Once the game was underway, the No. 14 Muleriders (9-3) crossed the plate first in the top of the third inning as Ryan Dardenne plated Tyler Cameron from second base with one out. A second run would come around to score in the next at-bat as starting pitcher Philip Menou helped his cause as he reached on an error by the Pilots’ (8-4) third baseman.

Menou (2-0) would lose the early advantage in the bottom of the frame as the Pilots scored a pair of runs on two hits to knot the game up at two-all. In the next half inning, the Muleriders would go back on top as Cameron reached on a fielder’s choice that scored William Townsend.

From there, Menou would get into a rhythm as he sailed through the next two innings without surrendering a hit. The Pilots, who came into the game as the No. 2 ranked team in NAIA, would break Menou’s rhythm, however, in the bottom of the sixth inning as they scored two runs to take their first lead of the game, 4-3.

In the next half inning, the Muleriders would rally for a pair of runs themselves as they slingshot themselves back into the lead, 5-4. Ryan Bell led that frame off with a walk and then advanced to second a batter later as Townsend laid down a successful sacrifice bunt. With Bell at second with one out, Jason Dahl laced an opposite-field double into left-centerfield to chase Bell home for the Muleriders’ fourth run of the game. Two batters later, Dahl scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron.

“I think our small-ball was great today,” said Coach Browning. “Our guys executed well, and it translated into runs for us.”

Given the lead once more, Menou came back to the mound for the eighth inning. After retiring the first two batters in relatively easy fashion, Menou hit Zack LeJeune. LeJune would immediately be pinch-ran for once he reached first base. The move for more speed worked out for the Pilots as LeJune’s pinch-runner would successfully swipe second base and then score on a single up the middle to tie the game at five-all.

In the top of the ninth inning, the Muleriders quickly put a runner in scoring position as Townsend doubled to left field with one out in the inning. After a walk to Dahl, the Muleriders were in an even better run-scoring opportunity when Dahl and Townsend advanced a base on a wild pitch.

Batting with two runners in scoring position and only one out, the Muleriders’ David Harris elevated a pitch and drove it out to right-centerfield. Harris’ batted ball would split the outfielders for a two RBI triple to break the tie score. While Harris was on his way to third base, the throw into third was errant, allowing Harris to score as well. The Muleriders added another two runs in the inning as Menou and Chris Quinn registered RBI knocks.

Now pitching with a five-run lead, Menou returned to the mound for the ninth inning. “It is great as a pitcher to have your offense put up a big inning for you,” commented Menou. “The five-run top of the ninth inning by my team allowed me to not worry as much about being perfect and to just throw outs.”

The five-run cushion would be all that Menou would need in the ninth inning as he made quick work of the Pilots in the inning by throwing a perfect frame to earn the complete-game victory. “I felt better and better as the game went on,” noted Menou when asked about the length of his start. “I felt like I was still throwing just as hard as early on in the game.”

The Muleriders will remain on the road as they jump back into Great American Conference play this upcoming weekend, taking on Northwestern Oklahoma. The three-game series is set to begin with a doubleheader on Friday, February 22nd, but inclement weather in the Alva, Okla. area may push the series back to starting on Saturday, February 23rd.


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