Wildcats take two wild games to make ASC Red Bracket Final

Sports

Sr. C/1B Austin Willey starting his trip around the bases following his home run Friday vs. Belhaven. Photo: East Texas Baptist University Sports Information

MARSHALL, Texas – After suffering a stinging run-rule defeat in Friday’s opening game of the ASC Baseball Championship Tournament, the Louisiana College baseball team rallied back to stave off elimination twice with a pair of high-scoring wins to advance to the Red Bracket Final, defeating Belhaven 10-7 and then knocked out Ozarks, the team that beat them Thursday, 11-10 Friday night at Woods Field. 

Game 1 – Belhaven 7, Louisiana College 10 

Things didn’t start as well as hoped as the Wildcats fell behind 2-0 after the first inning of play. But the game turned in a big way in the third as Louisiana College’s bats came to life. Brodie Falgoust and Alex Ashby hit back-to-back base hits with one out to set things up with runners on the corners as Beau Freeman got the scoring started with a base hit to right that scored Falgoust to cut the deficit to 2-1. Ty Morgan tied the score with a base hit to center that plated Ashby, and then Austin Willey gave the Wildcats the lead in a big way as he drove a pitch over the wall in left for a three-run home run and a 5-2 LC lead after three innings. 

Peyton Lamartiniere didn’t take long to add to the lead in the fourth as he led off the bottom of the frame with a solo shot of his own to up the LC lead to 6-2. Later in the frame, with still no outs and runners on the corners, Alex Ashby grounded the ball deep enough in the hole on the left side for an infield base hit a that also allowed Christian Vandergrift to come home for a 7-2 LC lead through four complete innings. 

Belhaven pulled a run back in the top of the sixth inning, but by the time the inning was done, the Wildcats had extended the lead. After Alex Ashby was hit by a pitch to reach base with one gone, Beau Freeman found a pitch he liked and delivered it over the left field wall for a two-run blast and raise the lead to 9-2. After the second out was recorded, three straight walks loaded the bases for Lamartiniere, who found ground in left field to score Ju’Juan Franklin from third to make it 10-3 LC when the sixth inning ended. 

The Blazers didn’t go down without a fight, scoring three runs in the eighth and would add another in the ninth with the tying run at the plate, but the Wildcats were able to close out the game and stay alive into the evening. 

Alex Ashby had a successful day at the plate, going three-of-four against the Blazers with a RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Beau Freeman went two-for-four, including his fourth home runs of the season, along with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored. Peyton Lamartiniere went two-for-four with his sixth home run of the season, a walk, two RBI, and a run scored. Austin Willey’s lone hit in three at bats was his second home run of the season and accounted for three RBI and a run scored. Willey also drew two bases on balls in the contest. Ty Morgan also went two-for-five with a RBI and a run scored. 

Brooks Southall (6-3) came on in the fourth and worked five innings to pick up the victory. He allowed nine hits and five runs, all earned, walked one and struck out seven. Colten Newsom got the start and threw three innings, giving up five hits and two runs, both earned, with no walks and one strikeout. Konnor McDermott came on in the ninth and gave up two hits and no runs with no walks or strikeouts. 

Game 2 – Ozarks 10, Louisiana College 11 

Much like the Belhaven game, Louisiana College found itself behind follow the top of the first inning as Ozarks plated a run in the top half. But unlike game one, the Wildcats had an answer in the bottom half as LC took the lead quickly. With a runner on second and one out, Ty Morgan traded places with Beau Freeman by doubling to left to tie the score. Now with two outs, Austin Willey traded places with Ty Morgan as Willey doubled to the left-center alley to give the Wildcats the lead. Peyton Lamartiniere added to the lead with a base hit just out of the reach of the glove of the outstretched shortstop, scoring Willey from second for a 3-1 LC lead after the first inning. 

Ozarks reclaimed the lead with three runs in the top of the third inning, but again the Wildcats had an answer in the next inning. With a runner on second and two outs, Alex Ashby came through with a base hit to right-center that got all the way to the wall for a double that scored Brodie Falgoust to make it 4-4. 

However, the Eagles jumped back out in front with three runs in the top of the fifth inning to reclaim the lead at 7-4. LC pulled one back in the bottom half of the frame as Peyton Lamartiniere’s base hit to center with two outs scored Ju’Juan Franklin from second base to make the score 7-5 Eagles. 

LC’s big rally came with one out in the sixth inning. After a strikeout started the frame, Alex Ashby was hit by a pitch to reach. A perfectly played hit and run put runners on the corners for Ty Morgan, who took advantage by dropping a RBI single into center to score Ashby and cut the deficit to just a single run. Ju’Juan Franklin immediately followed with game-tying base hit as his single to right scored Beau Freeman from second. With the bases now loaded with two outs, Peyton Lamartiniere gave the Wildcats the lead for good by standing there and watching ball four sail by to force in Ty Morgan to give LC an 8-7 lead. 

Things got wild, most notably Ozarks pitching, with two outs in the seventh inning to help LC extend the lead. After two strikeouts opened the frame, Beau Freeman drew a walk, which then drew a pitching change from the Eagles. The new Ozarks pitcher immediately plunked Ty Morgan, Ju’Juan Franklin, and Austin Willey all in a row to force in Freeman for a 9-7 lead. After Ty Morgan scored on a wild pitch, Jacob Fowler drew ball four to reload the bases. Peyton Lamartiniere watched ball four zoom by again to collect another RBI from a base on balls for an 11-7 Wildcat lead after seven complete. 

But the Eagles would not go quietly, scoring three runs with just one out recorded in the top of the eighth to make it a one-run game. Konnor McDermott was summoned from the bullpen for the second time on this day to close things out, and he did what he was asked, getting the next two batters out to get out of the eighth inning and then striking out all three batters in the ninth to preserve the win and send LC to the finals of the ASC Tournament’s Red Bracket. 

The Wildcats collected 15 base hits in the revenge game against Ozarks, led by Austin Willey’s three-for-four performance at the plate. Willey hit a double, drove in two runs and scored once and was also hit by a pitch. Peyton Lamartiniere went two-for-three with two walks and four RBI. Ty Morgan went two-for-four with a double, a hit by pitch, two RBI and three runs scored. Alex Ashby went two-for-five with a double, a RBI, a run scored, and was hit by a pitch. 

Dylan Roark (4-2) came on in the sixth and kept the Ozarks bats quiet long enough for the two big innings where LC took and then extended the lead. He threw 2.1 innings and allowed five hits and three runs, two earned, struck out two and didn’t walk any batters. Konnor McDermott came on in the eighth and collected his first save of the season by getting all five Eagle batters he faced out. Andrew Robinson started the game and threw three innings, allowing four hits and four runs, just one earned, with no walks and one strikeout. Beau Hebert and Dylan Coburn saw a combined two innings of work in middle relief. 

The Wildcats (25-15) head to Saturday’s ASC Tournament Red Bracket Final where they’ll face the host institution East Texas Baptist with a trip to next weekend’s Tournament Championship Series on the line. First pitch of the Bracket Final against the Tigers (28-14) is set for 1:00 P.M. at Woods Field with LC looking for a pair of wins. 

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