UNA drops two of three to Delta State

The weekend could have been much different for the Lions. Instead they salvaged a win on April 7 to prevent being swept at home by Delta State.

UNA hosted renewed GSC rival Delta State in a big weekend series. After dropping the opening doubleheader on April 6, the Lions rallied on April 7 behind the stellar pitching of Chad Boughner and the opportunistic offense at the plate.

The Good Friday opening game saw Delta State jump out to an early 1-0 lead before blowing open the scoring gates in the fifth inning. The Lions gave up a lead-off double to open the frame. After a third strike in the dirt that allowed a Statesman to reach first, Delta State really started swinging the bats. UNA found itself trailing 5-0 after five innings.

The Lions got on the board in the sixth as the speedy left-fielder, Darrmal Moore, legged out an infield hit. A balk by the Delta State pitcher moved him to second before an RBI double by Michael Schmidt brought Moore in. In the seventh inning the Lions loaded the bases before Schmidt struck again with a two-out rope to the gap in right-center field to clear the bases. Going into the eighth the Lions had cut the deficit to 5-4.

That would be as close as UNA would get in game one, as the Statesmen reeled off four more runs in the final innings to beat the Lions 9-4.

Game two was a game of chances—chances not fully capitalized on by the Lions.

The Lions pounced on the Statesmen early and grabbed a 4-0 lead, sitting comfortably with a 5-1 lead through five innings before things unraveled.

Starting pitcher Michael Watkins struggled after the fifth inning before relief pitchers Jacob Westerhouse and Brantley Claunch made their ways onto the mound to find similar problems. Delta State scored six runs in a breakout sixth inning, taking a 7-5 lead.

The Lions fought back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth to force extra innings, but a plague of stranded base runners in the last half of the game stymied any hopes for UNA to snatch the victory.

In the eighth inning, Lions’ coach Mike Keehn was tossed after arguing a call that gave Delta State a lead off single. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that the Statesmen finally pulled away with an RBI double off of Lions’ reliever Drew Batchelor and an insurance run off of Andrew Hillis. Delta State took the game 9-7 and the series before Saturday’s game three.

The Lions came out hot in game three, scoring three runs in the first two innings. With Chad Boughner on the mound, the Lions never looked back.

The defense was solid all day, which contributed to Boughner being untouched for most of the afternoon. The Lions’ starter had a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings and continued on to a complete game allowing only one run and striking out five Statesmen in his wake.

Jake Sloan turned on an inside pitch and slapped it off of the scoreboard in right field in the fifth inning to finish the scoring for the Lions, as they went on to win 4-1.

Lions’ catcher Drew Parker stressed the importance of a strong rebound performance on Saturday.

“It was really tough to come out in a big series and drop the first two games like we did,” Parker said. “I knew we would come out hot today and find a way to win.”

With a month left in the season, Parker said the Lions are refocusing on their goals as a team and stressing preparation.

“We want to continue to prepare well in practice each week and stay focused on our goal of going into regionals with some momentum,” Parker said. “We saw the rankings when we were moving up each week, but we want to stay focused and worry about the things we need to take care of.”