UNA matches off with University of New Orleans in Senior Weekend

Andrew Almon helps a UNO player up after colliding on first base with him.

The Lions hosted the Privateers of New Orleans this weekend in the last home series of the season for UNA.

The April 21 games were played in unseasonably cool temperatures under overcast skies but saw the Lions battle back in game one behind timely hitting, smart base running and a gutsy performance from senior Johnny Hornbuckle.

A big play from UNA’s defense in the opening frame kept UNO off the board when Josh Doyle relayed a throw from the outfield to Josh Carpenter and onto catcher Drew Parker for a play at the plate.

Small ball by the Lions in the third inning moved Michael Schmidt to third base before a two-out RBI single from Jake Sloan put UNA on the board.

In the fifth inning, heads up base running after a lead off single by Josh Doyle netted another run for the Lions to knot the score at two runs a piece.

UNA’s defense was solid all weekend. A Chipper Jones-esque play by UNA third baseman Andrew Almon got the Lions out of a jam in the sixth inning.

First baseman Josh Cyr was hit by a pitch three times in the opening game.

Brantley Claunch came in for relief of Hornbuckle in the eighth. Hornbuckle ended his day allowing four runs on nine hits.

The Lions kept battling back from behind throughout the afternoon. In the eighth, Almon led off with a single before two more hits by Parker and Drew Humphrey loaded the bases. A rip down the first base line by Schmidt looked like it would clear the bases before the ball hit the base and ended up as an easy out for the Privateers. One run scored and UNA trailed 4-3 after eight innings.

UNA rallied in the ninth to force extra innings.

Sloan started things off with a single followed by Almon with another big base hit. Parker was walked to load the bases. Humphrey legged out an infield hit to score a run for the Lions that tied the game 4-4.

A sacrifice fly ball by Cyr scored Doyle in the bottom of the 10th to get the win and the payoff for a tough battle for the Lions in the opening game.

Michael Watkins took the mound for UNA in the second game of the day and took control early on.

UNA jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning via an RBI single from the hot bat of Almon. The Lions added two more runs in the fifth to extend the lead to 3-0.

Humphrey singled in another run in the sixth to make it 4-0. This would end the scoring for the Lions, but it would be all they needed, as Watkins held the Privateers in check.

Watkins threw a complete game shutout and the Lions took game two by a score of 4-0.

Before April 22’s game, the seniors were applauded for their contributions while at UNA.

Chad Boughner took his place on the mound where he would end the day on the heels of some school records, including career strikeouts and career wins.

UNA’s bats started off cold early. Though they were making good contact, the ball just wouldn’t drop in for them.

The Lions’ determination paid off in the third, as Almon led off the inning with a single before Parker moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Humphrey’s ground out moved Almon to third. A two-out triple ripped by Schmidt scored Almon to tie the game at 1-1.

In the fifth inning, Schmidt struck again. The second baseman doubled down the first base line. A double-steal two batters later caught UNO off guard, and Schmidt scored to make it 2-1 for the Lions. A single through the gap by Sloan scored another to make it 3-1 after five innings.

In the seventh inning, Sloan brought the home crowd to its feet by launching a deep homerun over the scoreboard in right field, giving the Lions a 4-3 lead.

A double by senior Daniel Korpi in the eighth scored another run for UNA to put them up 5-3. Boughner came back to the mound in the ninth to close out the win for the Lions.

Coach Mike Keehn liked what he saw from his team this weekend.

“We showed we can win games even when all of our bats aren’t clicking at the same time,” he said.

Keehn said they will now turn their attention to the last week of the season and a big series coming up next weekend.

“This weekend helped us be able to put a high emphasis on UAH next weekend leading into the GSC tournament,” Keehn said. “This will be our first trip to UAH’s campus for a series, and there will definitely be a tournament feel to the games.”