SUGAR LAND, Texas — Southeastern Louisiana remains alive for the Southland Conference tournament championship, but after a 12-2 mercy-rule loss to Lamar on Friday night, the Lions will have to win twice Saturday to prolong their season.
Lamar’s Sam Bumpers had two hits, including a home run and three RBIs, while Chase Angelle came on in relief to pitch five scoreless innings to earn the win in front of 1,407 fans at Constellation Field.
The Lions and Cardinals will square off for the third time in four days at 1 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to a winner-take-all championship game against the winner between Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas, who play at 9 a.m.
“Lamar kicked our butts tonight; let’s make no bones about it,” Southeastern coach Jay Artigues said. “What happened tonight is inexcusable from our guys. They need to find a way to play better.”
The No. 4-seeded Lions (35-23) were led by Jesse Buratt’s two RBIs and Ladd Rhodes’ two hits. Southeastern got outhit 15-6 in the seven-inning affair.
“Tonight is not what we wanted to happen at all, but you can’t let it carry over to tomorrow,” senior Ben Hernandez said. “We have to come out with more energy and find a way to win two games.”
No. 5-seeded Lamar (39-19) won two games Friday, beating No. 1 Sam Houston State four hours earlier.
“When we had to have it, we had our best games of the year today,” Lamar coach Jim Gilligan said. “I like the focus we’ve had, and we’ve done a good job of not relaxing. We are playing hard and thinking hard.”
The Cardinals scored three runs in the fourth and five runs in the seventh to end the game early.
“We feel good, and I think we are in a good predicament for (Saturday),” Bumpers said. “We will see what happens.”
Southeastern actually got on the board first after Hernandez walked and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Buratt in the first.
Lamar tied the score in the second when Jude Vidrine drove in Seth Dornak. Two batters later, Bumpers hit a sacrifice fly to score V.J. Bunner to give the Cardinals a 2-1 advantage.
The Lions tied it up in the third when Jameson Fisher scored on an RBI grounder by Buratt.
Lamar jumped back ahead in the fourth with four straight singles. Bumpers hit to left field drove in Bunner to put the Cardinals up 3-2.
That was the end of the day for Southeastern starter Andro Cutura, who gave up eight hits and five runs in 3.1 innings.
Matt Pittari came on with one out and the bases loaded and got Aaron Olivas to hit an RBI grounder that appeared to force Jude Vidrine out at third.
Third base umpire John Brammer called the runner safe despite an argument from Artigues. Darian Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Southeastern loaded the bases in the sixth inning after three straight singles. But Alex Marse grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Then Lamar scored seven runs in the next two innings.
Bumpers hit one over the left-field fence with one out in the sixth. Two more singles and a walk loaded the bases for Dornak, who added another RBI single to make it 7-2.
Lamar brought across an eighth run when Bunner scored on a wild pitch in the seventh inning. A bases loaded walk to Johnson scored Vidrine, and Brad Picha was hit with the bases load to make it 10-2.
An infield hit by Dornak scored another run and a wild pitch brought in the final run of the game.
Tanner Rainey gave up five runs on two hits and three walks in the final third of an inning.
Now, the Lions must turn around 14 hours later against the same Cardinals team.
“This time of year you expect better than what happened tonight,” Artigues said. “We need to forget this and just show up and play again tomorrow.”