By: Mike Hammett/ULM Athletics
MONROE, La. – Ryan Humeniuk hit an RBI double to right centerfield, scoring Colby Deaville from first base with two outs in the 10th inning for a walk-off 5-4 win for ULM over Little Rock to claim a series victory Monday afternoon at Warhawk Field.
Humeniuk’s double ended what had been a 4-4 stalemate since Little Rock tied the game in the fifth inning. Little Rock closer Aaron Barkley was trying to close out his third consecutive shut out inning in the 10th and force an 11th inning before Humeniuk’s heroics.
With nobody on base and two outs, ULM’s Colby Deaville battled back from an 0-2 count to earn a walk to put a runner on first base.
“I just knew I was seeing him pretty well,” Deaville said of the walk. “I was betting on myself, trusting my eyes and trusting my abilities. I really just wanted to step up for the team. It’s been a tough couple of weeks. We needed somebody to step up and get the job done.”
Humeniuk worked ahead to a 3-1 count against Barkley before fouling a pitch off to push the count full. With Deaville off and running on the first movement by Barkley toward home, Humeniuk connected for a hit to right center. Deaville motored around the bases and scored easily on a head first slide well ahead of the throw from center field, sending the Warhawks spilling out of the dugout to celebrate with Humeniuk in shallow left field.
“That’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Humeniuk said. “It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had to have all your teammates out there, surrounding you.”
“What an at bat by Deaville against a really good back-end arm in our league to go from an 0-2 to a walk,” ULM head coach Michael Federico said. “For Ryan to get that big bolt, we needed that and he needed that. He’s been an unbelievable player for us for three years. He came back for this reason. It’s nice for him to have that moment.”
Humeniuk said former ULM head baseball coach Jeff Schexnaider visited with the team earlier in the week and brought a message about facing pressure situations.
“Coach Schexnaider came and talked to us this week about shooting the eight ball in pool and how that moment can sometimes consume people and you either get 20 percent better or 20 percent worse in those moments,” Humeniuk said. “He asked me personally if I wanted to be the one who shot the eight ball. I told him yes sir, I do. It’s pretty cool the way that life works out like that. I get shoved into that moment immediately after having that conversation with him. I’m very fortunate.”
The late inning pitchers’ duel between bullpens countered a high-scoring start to the game. Little Rock scored three runs in the top of the first inning, scoring on a 2-run home run from Tyler Williams and an RBI groundout by Kobe Barnum for the 3-0 advantage. ULM starting pitcher Cole Cressend lasted just 1/3 of an inning, giving up three runs on four hits. Reliever Lucas Wepf came out of the bullpen and settled the Trojans down, tossing 4 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits.
Carson Orton followed out of the bullpen with four shutout innings before Reid Goleman (1-1) threw a scoreless 10th inning for his first win as a Warhawk.
“I’m proud of Lucas for coming in there in that tough spot,” Federico said. “It’s the first time Cressend has thrown a conference weekend. I’m sure he had a little anxiety going there. It’s something he’s going to have to learn from as well. It was nice to get some zeroes hung up there by our pitching staff. It gave our offense a chance.”
“I just had to shut everything down and totally change the energy and get our fielders back in the dugout,” Wepf said. “I just tried to fill it up.”
ULM responded to Little Rock’s opening outburst with a two-run home run by Mason Holt in the bottom of the first, his fourth homer of the season. The Warhawks tied the game in the second inning when Travis Washburn opened with a bunt single and moved to second on Wiley Cleland’s walk. Logan Wurm’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. A wild pitch allowed Washburn to score to tie the game, and Deaville’s sacrifice fly plated Cleland for the 4-3 lead.
Little Rock managed to tie the game in the fifth inning when a throwing error allowed Nathan Lyons to score. The Trojan bullpen shut down ULM, with Luke Wallner, Jack DeCooman, Erik McKnight and Barkley combining to throw 7 2/3 innings, allowing a combined one run on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
“Momentum is huge in baseball,” Humeniuk said. “We need to carry as much momentum as we can right now. When things are going bad, they can go really bad. Also, when things are going good, they can go really good. I think it’s important that the guys need to relish in these moments because we haven’t had a lot of them this year and continue to take this into the rest of the week’s games and the next conference series.”
ULM returns to the field at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at LSU. Links to live video, audio and stats are available at ULMWarhawks.com.