PENSACOLA, Fla. – Drew Avans smacked a long single over the head of South Alabama center fielder Travis Swaggerty in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday at Blue Wahoos Stadium, driving in the winning run for Southeastern Louisiana in a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Jaguars in the Cox Diamond Invitational.
Southeastern (5-4) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to rebound from back-to-back losses.
South Alabama (5-4) struck first, scoring an unearned run in the first for the early lead.
After Lion starting pitcher Mac Sceroler fanned the first two batters of the game, Swaggerty and first baseman Wells Davis knocked back-to-back singles. Swaggerty scored from third base on a passed ball after left fielder Brendan Donovan struck out swinging.
Sceroler, a junior from Denham Springs, Louisiana, and Jaguar starting pitcher Randy Bell then locked into a pitcher’s duel, striking out batters and keeping the score unchanged until the fifth inning. Bell fanned a pair of batters in each of the first five innings.
The Jaguars padded their lead with a pair of runs in the fifth.
Catcher Jared Barnes led off the inning with a single through the left side. After stealing second base, Barnes advanced to third on a wild pitch that came on ball four of Colton Thomas’ one-out walk to. Thomas also advanced to second on a wild pitch, putting a pair in scoring position for shortstop Drew LaBounty.
Already with one hit in the game, LaBounty ripped a two-run double down the left-field line.
Southeastern got on the board against Bell, who had a string of 13-consecutive scoreless innings against the Lions snapped, in the bottom of the fifth.
With two outs Avans picked up his first hit of the game, a solo home run to right field. It was the first homer of the season for the junior from Alabaster, Alabama.
The Lions tied up the game off Bell in the sixth, forcing him from the game.
First baseman Derrick Mount, a senior from Saucier, Mississippi, ripped a single up the middle to lead off the inning. With one out, shortstop Brennan Breaud pulled a hit-and-run single through the right side to put runners on the corners. Breaud then stole second, putting a pair in scoring position. Mount scored on an RBI single off the bat of right fielder Ryan Byers, sending Breaud to third and chasing Bell from the game.
A sophomore from Norco, Louisiana, Breaud scored on a wild pitch by reliever Joey Jones to tie the game.
Both teams stranded the potential go-ahead run at third in the eighth.
After a couple of scoreless relief innings by Evan Hileman (2-0), Southeastern finally broke through in the ninth.
Catcher Daniel Wasinger singled past the second baseman to lead off the inning and advanced to third on Jacob Seward’s hit-and-run single to left-center field, setting up Avans’ heroics.
Hileman earned his second win of the season, closing out the game. The junior from St. Rose, Louisiana, surrendered one hit and struck out one in his two-inning stint.
Sceroler allowed three runs, two earned, in seven innings of work. He surrendered six hits and two walks, striking out nine batters.
Harrison Spruiell (0-1) was tagged with the loss, allowing one run on three hits in two innings of work. He walked one and struck out two.
Bell allowed three runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings pitched. He walked one and struck out 10 batters.
Avans, Seward and Wasinger each recorded a pair of hits for the Lions.
Sophomore right-hander Corey Gaconi (0-0, 7.20) is slated to get the starting nod Saturday at 11 a.m. versus Seton Hall sophomore left-hander Cullen Dana (0-1, 4.22). The Lions will be the visiting team in the game.
Southeastern’s games in the Cox Diamond Invitational can be heard in the Hammond, Louisiana, area on KSLU 90.9 FM, online and through the TuneIn Radio app (search for KSLU). Fans can also keep up with the games through live statistics or by following SLUathletics on Twitter.
Saturday’s game against Seton Hall will be televised by Cox Sports Television (Charter 324 / 815 HD). Outside CST’s coverage area only, the game is available on ESPN3, WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. ESPN3 is also available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Sling TV, Chromecast and Roku.
Ticket sales for the Cox Diamond Invitational are being handled through the Blue Wahoos’ office, but links to purchase tickets online, in addition to audio, video and stats, are available on the baseball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.
Southeastern 4, South Alabama 3 (Mar 03, 2017 at Pensacola, Fla.)
South Alabama……. 100 020 000 – 3 7 1 (5-4)
Southeastern……….. 000 012 001 – 4 11 1 (5-4)
Pitchers: South Alabama – Bell, Randy; Jones, Joey (6); Spruiell, Harrison (7) and Barnes, Jared. Southeastern – Sceroler, Mac; Hileman, Evan (8) and Pace, Evan; Wasinger, Daniel.
Win-Hileman, Evan (2-0) Loss-Spruiell, Harrison (0-1) T-2:48 A-1202
HR SLU – Avans, Drew.
Weather: Clear 61, NNE 8 mph
Spruiell faced 3 batters in the 9th.