SFA Goes 13 Innings To Beat Nicholls
March 24, 2013
THIBODAUX, La. - Max Lamantia hit a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 13th inning and Brett Higginbotham threw 5.2 innings of scoreless relief as the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks had to come back for the second consecutive game for a 9-8 win over Nicholls on Sunday at Ray E. Didier Field.
Higginbotham struck out six hitters, not walking a batter and allowing just two hits to earn the win, moving his record to 1-2 on the year. The Lumberjack (11-12, 2-1 SLC) offense pounded out 18 hits, with Hunter Dozier leading the way with a 4-for-5 day that included a solo homer, four runs scored and three walks. SFA needed every one of its runs as it left the bases juiced three times and stranded 21 runners for the game.
The win helped SFA avoid dropping its first series to Nicholls (13-12, 1-2 SLC) since 2006.
Reliever Chris Miller took the loss for Nicholls, allowing the go-ahead run in the 13th inning. Meanwhile, starter Taylor Byrd struck out seven Lumberjacks in 6.0 innings, but allowed 10 hits and five runs in his stint.
Higginbotham was one of three Lumberjack pitchers to see time on the mound, with Cameron Gann striking out eight hitters in just 5.1 innings; however, he allowed six Colonel runs in that time before giving way to Justin Choate who allowed two runs in 2.0 innings.
Ricardo Sanchez was one of six Lumberjacks with multiple hits, going 4-for-8 on the day with an RBI and two runs scored. It was his wind-aided double in the top of the ninth when the Colonels were just one strike away from a win that scored Dozier and forced the game into extra innings.
Four innings later, SFA was finally able to outlast the Colonels, getting a one-out walk from Brett Thornell, followed by a single from Dozier and eventually Lamantia's third hit of the day, a bounding single up the middle that plated Dozier and put the `Jacks ahead for good.
SFA still had its work cut out for it in the bottom of the inning as Seth Stephens rocketed his third extra-base hit of the game, a double off the center field wall on the first pitch of the frame. But Higginbotham responded with a strikeout before picking Stephens off of second base and getting Matt Richard to fly out to give the `Jacks the win.
An RBI double from Keith Cormier in the bottom of the second plated the first run for the Colonels, and two batters later Cody Dufrene brought in Cormier with an RBI single. A fielder's choice scored one more and the Colonels took an early 3-0 lead.
SFA was not able to break through until its half of the fourth, getting a leadoff double from Dozier and a bunt single from Sanchez to start the inning and each came around to score, Sanchez on an RBI double from Lamantia and Sanchez on a run-scoring grounder from Freddy Villalobos. But Nicholls quickly got those runs back in its half of the fourth when Stephens blasted his second homer of the year, a two-run shot that pushed the lead back to three at 5-2.
Still, SFA had its chances to do damage, but left the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings. The Colonels added to their lead in their half of the sixth on an RBI double from Stephens that score Tyler Duplantis to increased the lead to 6-2.
The `Jacks were finally able to cut into the Colonel lead in the top of the seventh, starting with a leadoff solo homer from Dozier, his fourth long ball of the year. SFA followed with three consecutive singles, chasing Byrd for the game and setting the `Jacks up to get home two more runs on a bases-loaded walk from Zach Marberry and a fielder's choice from Jackson Hood to cut the lead to 6-5.
One inning later the `Jacks were able to take the lead when Mackenzie Handel smacked a two-run double into the right-center field gap to push the `Jacks up 7-6; however, that lead was short-lived as Dufrene followed a one-out walk to Stephens with a double inside the third-base bag that scored Stephens all the way from first to tie the game.
Two batter later the Colonels retook the lead when Richard singled to left field off of reliever Brett Higginbotham, but it was an error in the Lumberjack outfield that allowed Dufrene to score and give an 8-7 lead back to Nicholls.
But again, it was a lead that did not last long. Jackson Hood led off the SFA half of the ninth with a double inside the third-base bag and moved up to third on a wild pitch before the first out had be recorded. However, Colonel reliever Jordan McCoy followed by striking out both Matthew Dickey and Brett Thornell before Nicholls intentionally walked Dozier.
That set things up for Sanchez, who popped a routine fly into shallow center field; however, Nicholls shortstop Brandon Jackson lost it in the high, windy sky and allowed it to fall in for a game-tying double.
SFA will try and win its third in a row on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at home when it hosts UALR at Jaycees Field.