Lions fall in crucial conference series

Senior second baseman Kyle Crabtree attempts to turn a double play against Delta State March 26 at Mike Lane Field. The Lions lost three-straight to the Statesmen, falling to a 15-13 overall record.

The UNA baseball team failed to close out two close ballgames against Delta State, resulting in a three-game sweep.

The Lions jumped to early leads in the first two games Friday, but did not finish in the final innings, losing 8-6 and 4-3. Delta State also earned a 6-2 victory Saturday to complete the sweep.

“We need one weekend where we’re clicking on all cylinders,” said UNA coach Mike Keehn March 24. “We’ve had our games here and there, but we haven’t had where we were just really good.”

The Lions held a 6-3 lead after eight innings in game one, but an RBI-single and a grand slam in the top of the ninth doomed the Lions. Sophomore first baseman Kyle Hubbach had a solo homerun and senior designated hitter Taylor Hayes had two RBI’s in the loss.

Senior Riley Sanderson, who got the start in game one, allowed just one earned run through seven innings, but received his third straight loss after winning his first five games.

Senior right-handed pitcher Blake Talley, who came on in relief for junior Devan Traglia, gave up the grand slam to Delta State’s senior centerfielder Brandon Cummins, giving Delta State a late lead and momentum.

“Delta State is obviously an extremely good offensive team,” Keehn said.

The offense proved itself once again with another late rally in game two. UNA held a 3-1 advantage late in the game until DSU’s three-run sixth inning gave it the lead.

Hubbach and senior second baseman Kyle Crabtree each had two hits in the losing effort. Junior starting pitcher Bradley Bailey allowed four runs on four hits in 5.1 innings, receiving the loss.

Keehn said Delta State’s pitching posed a problem for the Lions’ bats.

“(The Statesmen) have three left-handed starters that they’re going to try to get as many innings as they can out of them,” Keehn said.

Key mistakes plagued the Lions in game three as they committed five errors in Saturday’s loss. Hubbach continued his solid weekend at the plate with two hits. Todd Gibson, who gave up five runs on seven hits through 6.1 innings, took the loss for the Lions.

The Lions will look to turn around their conference struggles April 2-3 against Alabama-Huntsville.