(Westwego, La.) The Loyola University New Orleans baseball team had a tall task in front of it on Friday night as it welcomed No. 1 Faulkner University to Segnette Field for game one of a three-game Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) series.
Entering Friday’s matchup, the Wolf Pack were 3-28 all-time against the Eagles and having lost the last nine-straight matchups dating back to 2014. Faulkner came to Westwego on Friday having won its last 11 games including its first nine conference outings.
The Eagles embarked on Segnette Field with the best rotation in the NAIA, leading the country with a 2.51 ERA. The linchpin for this stellar Faulkner rotation was Friday’s starter Ivan Paleaz who came into the game with a 7-1 overall record, a sub-1.00 ERA and having allowed only five earned runs all season.
Despite the numbers all giving Faulkner the advantage, the Wolf Pack came out on Friday and showed that games are won on the diamond and not on a piece of paper. Led by Jesse Jordan, Spencer Rosenbohm, and Alexander Lorenzo, Loyola tagged Paleaz for five runs on nine hits (both the most he has given up all season) to take claim the 5-3 upset victory at home.
With the win, Loyola improves to 17-20 on the year and 3-7 in the SSAC. Conversely, Faulkner drops to 31-4 overall and 9-1 in conference action following the loss. Friday’s victory marked the second time that the Wolf Pack has defeated the Eagles when Faulkner was the No. 1 ranked team in the country (2014).
The three-game series caps off tomorrow with a doubleheader set to start at 1:00 p.m.
Loyola 5 – No. 1 Faulkner 3
Following a shutout first inning by Joseph Kuchler, Loyola tacked on two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to a two-RBI single from Rosenbohm to score both Jordan and Lorenzo.
Faulkner put up one run in the top of the third before a homer by Reid Long would knot the game at 2-2 entering the bottom of the inning.
A RBI single by Ben Condara in the third would give Loyola the lead back at 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning.
In the fifth, Wilson Jr. singled to right to score Jordan from third. John Hernandez then stepped to the plate and set a shot out to left to score Lorenzo and put the Wolf Pack up 5-2.
The Eagles managed to tack on one run in the seventh to make the score 5-3 but the Wolf Pack would use stellar relief pitching by Jason Roussell over the next two innings to shut the door on the Faulkner comeback.
Jordan paced the Wolf Pack with three hits and three runs while Hernandez added two hits and a RBI in the victory. Rosenbohm chipped in two RBI on Friday and Lorenzo added one hit and two runs in the upset win.
Kuchler (4-3) got the win after holding the top-ranked team in the country to just two runs (both earned) on six hits in 5.0 innings pitched.