HAMMOND, La. – Redshirt-senior pitcher Mike Hanchar struck out a career-high 11 hitters as the Nicholls State University baseball program held on for a 3-2 victory over Southeastern Louisiana University Saturday at Alumni Field.
“Mike Hanchar was outstanding,” said Nicholls head baseball coach Seth Thibodeaux. “He did a phenomenal job of dictating the tempo of the game. He was able to get three pitches over for strikes and returned the favor from what we got last night from their guy. In some key situations he fell behind and was able to make some pitches. He got a lot of swings and misses today. He was a great leader and warrior for us today.”
Hanchar (3-3) cruised through the Lions lineup. The 6-5 lefty had a no-hitter through five innings and allowed just two hits through 8.2. He tossed a career-high 133 pitches. Those 11 aforementioned strikeouts mark the most by a Colonels pitcher this season.
“It was important for us to come on the road and get a win,” said Hanchar. “It meant a lot – not only to me but to our team. Coming here and beating one of our big rivals on the road is huge. I was able to stay low in the zone and command more than one pitch for a strike. Also too I have a heck of a defense behind me – that gave me confidence to go out there and fill up the strike zone.”
Nicholls (21-20, 8-9 SLC) took a 1-0 advantage in the third inning. Sophomore second baseman Ethan Valdez smacked a one-out single through the left side and later advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt from SLU (23-15, 11-9 SLC) starter Corey Gaconi. With the infield in, junior Chet Niehaus plated Valdez on a single that skidded beyond the reach of Lions second baseman Carson Crites.
An erroneous throw by SLU shortstop Brennan Breaud in the top of the fourth turned what would have been an inning-ending double play into the Colonels second run of the game.
In the fifth inning, Niehaus robbed Carson Crites of extra bases with a leaping grab against the left-field wall.
Nicholls added another vital run in the sixth on a two-out solo homer to left-center from junior third baseman Gage Teer.
“To get a hit like that, it’s special. It was just a real team effort. He hung me a pitch, and I put a good swing on it. We all contributed to that win today,” said Teer.
Hanchar was pulled with two outs in the ninth after SLU third baseman Taylor Schwaner tagged a double deep into left field that landed just beyond the outstretched glove of a diving Niehaus.
Sophomore closer Adam Tarver then entered but surrendered back-to-back hits that made it a 3-2 ballgame. Junior Alex Ernestine’s number was next out of the bullpen. After a walk and stolen base put runners on second and third, Ernestine retired Breaud on a groundout to first base, earning his first save of the season.
The Colonels handed Gaconi (3-4) the loss. He threw 7.1 innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits. Gaconi struck out six and walked one.
The rubber match between the two teams will take place at the Did Sunday on a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Nicholls 3, Southeastern 2 (Apr 22, 2017 at Hammond, La.)
Nicholls…………… 001 101 000 – 3 8 1 (21-20, 8-9)
Southeastern…….. 000 000 002 – 2 4 2 (23-15, 11-9)
Pitchers: Nicholls – Hanchar, Mike; Tarver, Adam (9); Ernestine, Alex (9) and Tucker, Alex. Southeastern – Gaconi, Corey; Tassin, Bryce (8) and Pace, Evan.
Win-Hanchar, Mike (3-3) Save-Ernestine, Alex (1) Loss-Gaconi, Corey (3-4) T-2:52 A-1033
HR NICH – Teer, Gage (3).
Weather: Cloudy 85, SW 7 mph
Tarver, A. faced 2 batters in the 9th.