Nacogdoches, TX- For the sixth consecutive season Lumberjack Baseball has put up winning numbers against the University of Texas-Arlington squad, and for a sixth consecutive season the ‘Jacks did not disappoint.
While the Mavericks did tack the opening win in the series on Friday, April 27, the Lumberjacks held strong this weekend to take the series on Sunday with a 3-1 win against UTA at Jaycee’s Field. The 27-15, 14-8 SLC Mavericks got at least one hit from every hitter in their line-up on Friday in a 4-2 victory.
But the ‘Jacks came back strong on Saturday to tie the series up in a convincing 3-0 win at Jaycee’s Field in Nacogdoches. Cameron Gann tossed six shutout innings and the Lumberjacks produced enough offense to hold off UT Arlington for a 3-0 win in the second game of the three-game series.
The 17-26, 10-13 SLC SFA snapped a three-game slump with its win on Saturday with Gann moving to 5-2 on the year, giving him the most wins by a Lumberjack freshman since Erich Lehmann had eight as a freshman in 2006. The right-hander struck out five and walked just two in six innings and has now pitched at least six innings in six of his seven starts of the year, including each of his last three. He struck out 17 batters in 18 innings in his last three starts after having just punched out 11 hitters in his previous 10 outings.
He had gone seven innings vs UTA on Feb. 26 in a no-decision when he received just one run of support. But on Saturday he got 11 hits and three runs of support with nine of the hits coming the first six spots in the SFA order. Chris Hernandez continued to swing picking up three singles in four at-bats for his second three-hit day in three games, while Rene’ Moreda, Freddy Vilallobos and Ricardo Sanchez each added two hits apiece.
The SFA bullpen earned three scoreless innings as Justin Choate allowed two base runners in two scoreless frames before giving way to Alex Moshier for the ninth. The senior needed six pitches to strike out his first two hitters before getting a groundout to end a perfect final inning and earn his sixth save of the season.
UTA Freshman Zach Thompson fell to 2-3 after allowing three runs on eight hits with a strikeout and a walk. Lefty Adam Boydston tossed four innings of scoreless relief, giving up just three singles while striking out four hitters.
Choate and Moshier finished things off to give the `Jacks a shot on Sunday for a series win over the Mavs who entered the weekend tied for second place in the Southland Conference.
But or the second straight day the `Jacks got a solid starting pitching and a shutdown effort from its bullpen as Colton Eubanks snapped a string of four consecutive losing decisions, giving just one run on five hits in six innings in moving to 4-5 on the year. He struck out four and walked just a pair before handing the bullpen to Cory Ochs with two scoreless frames to set up Alex Moshier, who allowed a base runner before converting his seventh save on the year.
UTA’s Michael Oberto made just his second start of the year for the Mavs, who fell out of a tie for second place in the Southland with the loss, and was solid himself in allowing just two runs on five hits in five innings of work while taking the loss.
As the Mavs staked Oberto to a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the third inning, SFA played behind for the beginning of the match-up. As Preston Morrow singled off of Eubanks’ glove with the bases loaded to bring home Phillip Incaviglia who head led off the inning with an infield hit.
The `Jacks got that run back in the bottom of the fourth when Villalobos scored the first of his two runs on the day on a two-out single to left field by Hernandez after leading off the inning himself.
Moshier, who got a foul out and a strikeout before walking Ryan Walker in the ninth, responded by getting pinch hitter Jake Pinchback to hit a routine comebacker to the mound for the game’s final out to secure the victory and the series.
The SFA Baseball squad will travel to traditional powerhouses Texas and Rice during the 2012 campaign. This marks the first time in team history that the program has had a tough enough schedule to legitimately compete for an NCAA bid.
The Jacks, who earned second place in the Southland Conference, will also travel to Texas A&M and Arkansas as a part of their non-conference schedule.
Attendance at these games has been perceived as “less than stellar” by a large portion of the players and staff. Much like Basketball Head Coach Danny Kaspar, Baseball Head Coach Johnny Cardenas has had his frustrations with the amount of students attending home baseball games.
But whether there are butts in the seats or not, the tough matchups that the Jacks will face will be on the road. In all sensible scheduling, the elite programs, like Texas and Rice, will face “cupcake” matchups to make sure they have easy wins to keep their momentum rolling. Unfortunately for the Jacks, they are considered those “cupcakes.”
However, if SFA could pull off an upset against these programs, the taste in the Longhorns’ and Owls’ mouths won’t be so sweet.
But, no matter if these road trips return wins, the fact that these schools would schedule SFA at all is quite an accomplishment. The Southland Conference, it seems, is beginning to gain respect across the NCAA community.
“The Southland Conference has really established itself as one of the true up-and-coming leagues in the nation in the past few years,” Cardenas said last week in an interview with the Athletic department. “There are no easy weekends, with anyone capable of knocking off anyone. For us to get where we want to get to, we will have to come ready to play every weekend.”
Playing competitively every weekend is something that the Jacks have grown accustomed to. Their 37-win season last year is the most in Lumberjack Baseball history and showed their progression as a program.
Game six, bottom of the ninth, two outs, one ball, two strikes; one pitch away from making the Texas Rangers World Series Champions for the first time in franchise history. The 1-2 pitch from Ranger closer Neftali Feliz to Freese is…
Not what Rangers fans wanted to see.
In Nacogdoches, and all around the SFA campus, Rangers fans are not hard to spot. From the “reindeer” shirts to the uniform-”T” hats, the Texas Rangers have a large impact at SFA.
That pitch, for those who didn’t get to see it, was drilled by Cardinal third baseman David Freese off the wall in right field, just past the glove of leaping Ranger right fielder Nelson Cruz for a two-RBI and game-tying triple.
This is when the magic began for the Cardinals.
Up to this point, the 2011 World Series was already being considered an all-time Fall Classic. With Derek Holland pitching a gem in Game 4 and Albert Pujols making history by becoming only the third player in World Series history to hit three home runs in the same game in Game 3, this Series was being slated as one of the best.
And that was before destiny played her role.
The Cardinals’ World Series comeback is more of a miracle than the win over Russia in 1980 by the US Olympic Hockey team: the story of the Kurt Russell-starred movie appropriately deemed “Miracle.”
The Texas Rangers were the giants who couldn’t be stopped; the back-to-back American League Champions; the God-sent angels that would bring the Dallas area two championships in the same year. They are, in fact, Russian.
Obviously Kurt Russell is a Cardinals fan.
Texas’ Game 2 rally in the ninth inning to tie the series up at one a piece set the tone for the entire series. Then Pujols’ Game 3 performance to put his name with Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Derek Holland’s two-hitter in Game 4 that he brought to the ninth inning. Mike Napoli’s winning hit in Game 5 to go up 3-2 going back to St. Louis. Destiny took over.
Up by 2 runs in the top of the ninth in Game 6, the Rangers were three outs away from winning their first World Series. Then they were two outs away. Then one out away. Then one measly strike away from making history and becoming 2011 World Series champs. That’s when the iceberg that is David Freese sunk the Titanic.
Freese’s two-out, two-strike, two-RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth tied up the game 7-7 and Rangers fans thought, “Are you kidding me?”
Then in the top of the tenth, Ranger Josh Hamilton cranked a two-run homerun to put the Rangers back up by two going into the bottom of the tenth.
Now the Rangers can breathe again, right?
After scoring on Ryan Theriot’s RBI-groundout, the Cardinals saw themselves one run down and first base open with the greatest right-handed batter of all-time, Albert Pujols, up to bat. And what does Ron Washington have to, and I mean have to, do in that situation?
Walk him. Walk him. Walk him.
That’s the right call, every day of the week.
Do not take any chances. Make the next batter, Lance Berkman, beat you. And that’s exactly what Berkman did. Again with two strikes—seems to be a theme here—the Rangers couldn’t close out the Series and Berkman delivered an RBI single to send the game into the 11th inning.
Are you kidding me?
At this point, the Rangers had nothing left in the tank. The Cardinals held them scoreless in the top of the frame and David Freese delivered the game-ending solo homerun to dead center field.
It’s simple from here.
Cardinal pitcher Chris Carpenter shut down the potent Ranger lineup in Game 7 and the Cardinals were crowned World Champions.
The thing is, the Cardinals should have been dead, buried. They should have been on a golf course or a deep-sea fishing trip. They had no business playing in October.
Ten and a half games back in the Wild Card with a month and a half to play, the Cardinals should have been miles away from Busch Stadium in October. But it doesn’t matter now, because they are World Champions. Champions of one of the greatest World Series in the history of baseball.
Are you kidding me?