Solo homers power Lions to victory over Demons in pitcher’s duel

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HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana rallied from a two-run deficit Friday, knocking three solo home runs to power past Northwestern State, 3-2, in a Southland Conference game at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

The win gives Southeastern (22-12, 10-7 Southland) the series and sets the Lions up for a sweep of the Demons (10-23, 3-11 Southland) with the finale set for Saturday at 1 p.m.

Northwestern State took an early lead after loading the bases with no outs in the second inning. Catcher Kelsey Richard lofted a sacrifice fly to center, plating right fielder Austin Townsend.

That was all the Demons would get in the inning as Southeastern starting pitcher Corey Gaconi (3-3) worked out of the jam without surrendering another run.

Richard struck again, this time with a solo home run in the fourth. The one-out shot was his first of the season.

Southeastern’s bats came to life in the bottom of the inning against Demon starter Evan Tidwell (1-5).

Ryan Byers, a senior from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, smacked an opposite field blast with two outs to cut the Northwestern State lead in half.

Drew Avans, a junior from Alabaster, Alabama, tied the game in the fifth with a two-out shot to right and Carson Crites, a senior from Amarillo, Texas, gave the Lions the lead with his leadoff blast into the left-field bullpen in the sixth.

Bryce Tassin and Evan Hileman combined with Gaconi to shut down the Demon offense over the final five innings.

A sophomore from Metairie, Louisiana, Gaconi earned the win. The right-hander allowed two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings of work. He walked a pair, hit one batter and struck out three. Tassin recorded the final out of the seventh and Hileman worked the final two innings to earn his third save of the season.

Tidwell took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits in 5.1 innings pitched. He walked a pair and struck out one.

Northwestern State is slated to start sophomore right-hander Austin Reich (1-1, 6.75) in the series finale against Lion sophomore righty Carlisle Koestler (1-2, 5.45) Saturday at 1 p.m.

The game can be heard in the Hammond, Louisiana, area on KSLU 90.9 FM, and worldwide online or through the TuneIn Radio app (search for KSLU). Fans can keep up with the series finale through live statistics or by following @SLUathletics on Twitter.

Streaming video is available on LionVision, Southeastern’s subscription-based video stream.

General Admission tickets for single home games are $9 for adults and $6 for children (ages 3-12). Tax is included in the price of admission. Southeastern students are admitted free with a valid university ID card.

Students and campus organizations can earn points toward their Lion Up Loyalty account at any home game by checking in on the mobile app while in attendance.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by contacting the athletics ticket office at (985) 549-5466 or 1-866-LION-TIX. Ticket office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Fridays. The box office at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field opens one hour prior to the scheduled first pitch.

Southeastern 3, Northwestern State 2 (Apr 14, 2017 at Hammond, La.)
Northwestern State… 010 100 000 – 2 8 1 (10-23, 3-11)
Southeastern…………. 000 111 00X – 3 5 1 (22-12, 10-7)
Pitchers: Northwestern State – Tidwell, Evan; Sanner, John Carter (6) and Richard, Kelsey. Southeastern – Gaconi, Corey; Tassin, Bryce (7); Hileman, Evan (8) and Pace, Evan.

Win-Gaconi, Corey (3-3) Save-Hileman, Evan (3) Loss-Tidwell, Evan (1-5) T-2:20 A-1247
HR NWST – Richard, Kelsey.
HR SLU – Avans, Drew; Crites, Carson; Byers, Ryan.
Weather: Mostly Cloudy 78, SE 14 mph

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Damon Sunde

Damon Sunde

Associate Director of Sports Information, Southeastern Louisiana University

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