Warhawks Comeback, Walkoff in Friday Series Opener
MONROE, La. – Down to its final three outs of the night, the ULM baseball team tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on Nate Reynolds’ double before Blake Buckman made the Warhawks walkoff winners in the 11th inning on Friday night as the hosts grabbed a 4-3 extra inning victory over Southern Illinois in the series opener.
FINAL SCORE: ULM 4, Southern Illinois 3 (11 innings)
LOCATION: Warhawk Field / Monroe, La.
RECORDS: ULM (2-3, 0-0 SBC), Southern Illinois (3-1, 0-0 MVC)
-Turner Francis led off the bottom of the 11th with a single up the middle before Hunter Johnson came in to pinch hit and delivered a perfect bunt that he beat out and saw the Southern Illinois pitcher throw over the first baseman’s head to advance Francis to third. With the infield drawn in, Buckman lifted a base hit into shallow center field to give the Warhawks the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
-ULM struck first on Chad Bell’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth before the hosts added a second run in the bottom of the sixth when Spencer Hemphill singled and later scored via a Southern Illinois error to give the Warhawks a 2-0 lead.
-Warhawk starter Josh Leone exited the game in the top of the seventh inning with two on after 6 1/3 innings of work in which he allowed four hits and had three strikeouts. Leone’s final stat line included two runs given up after Anthony Herrera came on in relief and saw the inherited runners score on a triple before Southern Illinois took the lead moments later on a two-out check swing infield single.
-Southern Illinois looked to add to the lead in the top of the ninth after getting the first two runners on base, but Herrera struck out the side to send the game to the bottom of the ninth.
-In the bottom of the ninth, Brian Barefoot opened the frame with a pinch hit single and was advanced to second on Buckman’s sacrifice bunt. Reynolds stepped in and delivered a double down the left field line to plate the tying run, but he was thrown out trying to stretch for third base and the game went to extra innings.
-The extra innings featured a couple tense moments, first when Chase Cater entered the game in the 10th with two on and notched a strikeout to end the inning, and then in the 11th when Southern Illinois received a double before the Warhawks stranded him at third to end the threat and set up the bottom of the 11th.
-ULM finished with 11 hits on the night, with two each from Hemphill and Francis. Reynolds, Herrera, Bell, Cade Harper (double), Barefoot and Buckman each finished with one hit.
-Cater (1-0) earned the win after his 1 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in extra innings.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
-Buckman’s walkoff single was just his second hit of the season in what was his first start of the season on Friday night.
-Bell becomes the third ULM player to notch a home run this season, joining Reynolds and Herrera, who also have one long ball.
-Leone has now turned in two starts on the young season without factoring in either decision. He allowed just two runs (one earned) and one hit in the season opener last Friday at Dallas Baptist before exiting against Southern Illinois after 6 1/3 innings of work in which he went through the batting order perfect through three innings before giving up a hit to open the fourth.
-The Warhawks had lost four straight extra inning contests dating back to last season. The last ULM extra inning victory was nearly a year ago to the date, when the Warhawks grabbed a 6-5 win in 10 innings over Southeastern Louisiana on February 21, 2016.
-The Warhawks continue the weekend series with Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. first pitch followed by a Sunday afternoon series finale.