THIBODAUX, La. – Senior Cole Stapler twirled a gem Friday night at Ray E. Didier field, going the distance as the Nicholls State University baseball program earned a 4-1 series-opening win over the University of the Incarnate Word.
“[Stapler] just beats teams up with what he’s got and it’s what he does best,” said Nicholls head baseball coach Seth Thibodeaux. “I think it’s more his presence than anything because players really feed off of that. His body language was amazing tonight. He just acts like a true senior and a warrior.”
Stapler improved to 4-4 on the season, scattering five hits and one run while striking out six. The 6-5 righty allowed just one hit through the first five innings and struck out the side in the fifth. This marked his second complete game and the third outing this season where he tossed exactly 119 pitches.
The Cardinals (15-19, 4-9 SLC) scratched their lone run in the sixth inning on a single from outfielder Mark Whitehead that scored shortstop Bryce Shepherd. Two of UIW’s five hits came in that frame.
The Colonels (19-17, 6-7 SLC) had three runners in scoring position in the first six innings and broke through with a four-spot in the seventh.
In the inning, senior catcher Alex Tucker commenced the rally with a single to right field and advanced to second after a misplay. Junior shortstop Joey Morales then reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt when Cardinals starter John Shull’s throw to first was inaccurate.
Senior designated hitter Juan Givan then plated Tucker on a single to left-center field. Morales scored after another errant throw on a bunt attempt, and Givan later advanced home on a sacrifice fly from senior outfielder Quade Smith.
The scoring barrage was capped off by a single from junior first baseman Kyle Knauth that brought home sophomore shortstop Ethan Valdez.
All four runs were unearned and charged to Shull, who fell to 3-5 after surrendering eight hits. He also struck out four.
Givan and junior infielder Gage Teer each recorded multiple hits. Nicholls secured nine total hits in the contest.
The Colonels are outscoring opponents 37-19 in the seventh inning and have a 16-0 record this season when leading after seven.