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Lions claim first place with win over Sam Houston Friday

Lions claim first place with win over Sam Houston Friday

Author: Action News 17/Friday, May 10, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Lion UP

HAMMOND, La. – Corey Gaconi tossed his second complete-game shutout against Sam Houston State in as many seasons, scattering four hits as Southeastern Louisiana picked up a 3-0 win Friday over the Bearkats in Southland Conference action at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

Southeastern (28-22, 17-8 Southland) moves into sole possession of first place in the conference, moving one game in front of the Bearkats (27-20, 16-9 Southland) with five conference games remaining. With the win, the Lions are the first team to officially clinch a spot in the upcoming 2019 Southland Conference Tournament in Sugar Land, Texas.

Fans were treated to a pitchers’ duel befitting of two first-place teams on a Friday night. Sam Houston State starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski (7-3) retired the first 10 batters he faced in the game and, after allowing a single to open up the game, Gaconi retired 11 consecutive hitters.

The Bearkats threatened first. Hunter Hearn snapped Gaconi’s consecutive-batter streak in the fourth inning with a two-out single to left field. Clayton Harp followed with a double down the right-field line, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Gaconi (7-2) induced a comebacker out of Sam Houston State designated hitter Gavin Johnson to end the inning and start another double-digit streak.

While Gaconi was busy retired the next 10 batters, the Lions finally broke through against Wesneski in the sixth. Bryce Steckler lined a one-out single to center field and scored on Preston Faulkner’s two-out, two-run home run off the left-field foul pole. The blast was the team-leading ninth of the season for the sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana.

In the seventh, Nathan Pilutti was hit by a one-out pitch. He scored easily from first base on Brennan Breaud’s hit-and-run single to left field after the Bearkat’s Jordan Rogers overran the ball.

Rogers, looking to atone for his mistake, led off the eighth with a single to right, snapping Gaconi’s string of 10-straight batters retired. The senior right-hander from Metairie, Louisiana, struck out the next batter and then got a double-play ground ball off the bat of Riley McKnight to end the inning.

Gaconi retired the side in order in the ninth for his second complete game of the season. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Gaconi extended his scoreless inning streak against Sam Houston State to 18.2 consecutive, dating back to a matchup in the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament.

Wesneski, who matched up with Gaconi for the third consecutive time, suffered the loss. The right-hander also tossed a complete game, allowing three runs – two earned – on four hits. The Southland leader in strikeouts walked one, hit one batter and struck out nine.

Gaconi ties former major league Jeff Williams (1992-96) for ninth in career wins (21) and bypasses Williams into sixth place in career innings pitched (289.0).

Saturday at 2 p.m., Southeastern senior right-hander Mason Knopp (6-1, 3.91) is scheduled to oppose Bearkat senior left-hander Seth Ballew (2-4, 7.40) in the middle game of the series.

All three games in the series can be heard in the Hammond area on the flagship station of the Southeastern Sports Radio Network, KSLU 90.9 FM, online at www.LionSports.net/ListenLive and via both the Lions Gameday Experience and TuneIn Radio apps.

Fans can also keep up with all the action through streaming video ($), live statistics or by following @SLUathletics on Twitter. Web links to audio and video broadcasts, stats, promotions and tickets are available on the baseball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.
 
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