CARBONDALE, Ill. – Designated hitter Cade Harper went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs to lead ULM to a 7-4 victory over Southern Illinois Sunday afternoon (March 4) in Itchy Jones Stadium, as the Warhawks completed the weekend series sweep. It marked ULM's first three-game road sweep since May 2012 at the Ragin' Cajuns.
ULM (9-2) scored four runs (two earned) on four hits off SIU right-hander Mason Hiser in the top of the second. Chad Bell and Peyton Lacoste opened the inning with back-to-back infield singles, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Turner Francis. Brendan Jordan followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Bell from third. Harper delivered an RBI single to right to score Lacoste and advanced all the way to third on a two-base error by the right fielder that also allowed Jordan to score from first. Brady McGeheepicked up an RBI on a fielder's choice as Harper scored to give the Warhawks a 4-0 lead.
SIU (3-8) scratched across a run in the bottom of the third off ULM right-hander Justin Olaughlin. With one out, Connor Kopach singled to center then stole second and third before scoring on a sacrifice fly to left field by Nikola Vasic.
Francis walked to lead off the top of the fourth and stole second base. With one away, Harper chased Francis home with an RBI single to center off Noah Farmer as the Warhawks moved out to a 5-1 lead.
The Salukis loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Kenton Crawford scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Addison Fugitt. With two outs, Kopach greeted ULM reliever Miles Dunn with a sharp single up the middle but the inning ended when Braedon Barrett threw out Austin Ulick, who tried to score from second, at the plate.
SIU cut its deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth as Kopach collected his fourth hit with an RBI single to left, scoring pinch runner J.T. Weber.
ULM added two insurance runs in the ninth. Jordan opened the inning with a single to center off Allen Montgomery and Harper followed with an RBI double down the right field line, scoring pinch runner Brian Barefoot. With runners at second and third and one out, Barrett pick up an RBI on a ground out to first base as pinch runner Pierce Khan scored to give the Warhawks a 7-3 lead.
Cole Gray, who became ULM's fifth pitcher of the game, retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth before surrendering three-straight base hits. SIU pulled to within 7-4 on Weber's RBI single through the left side scored Hunter Anderson. With runners on second and third, Gray ended the rally by striking out Fugitt swinging.
"It was a great team win and I'm proud of our guys going on the road and finding a way to not only win a road series but get a sweep on the road," first-year ULM head coach Michael Federico said. "That's very difficult to do in college baseball.
"Our bullpen did a great job limiting damage, and our offense found ways to expand the lead."
The Salukis outhit ULM, 15-8, but stranded 14 base runners.
Olaughlin went 3.2 innings for the Warhawks and allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Dunn (2-0) picked up the win in relief.
Hiser (0-2) took the loss for SIU, allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
At 9-2, ULM is off to its best start since the Warhawks opened the 2000 season with a 10-1 record.
ULM puts its three-game winning streak on the line Wednesday, March 7 against I-20 rival Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. at Warhawk Field.
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