By: Mike Hammett/ULM Athletics
LAKE CHARLES, La. – The ULM offense managed just four hits while McNeese hit a pair of home runs, as the Cowboys salvaged the series finale from the Warhawks, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.
“I’m proud of our guys,” ULM head coach Michael Federico said on taking the weekend series. “Now it’s time to get ready for conference play on these weekends. The next 30 games on the weekends are going to be crucial, because ultimately, that’s how you win a championship. It’s not about what you do in the preseason, it’s about what you do for the next 30. You don’t get a ring for having a good record early in the year. You get a ring for winning a championship, and that’s what we’re shooting for, is to go win a Sun Belt Championship.”
In what ended up being a duel between the two pitching staffs, ULM struck first in the third inning. Colby Deaville reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs and Mason Holt followed, reaching on an error by shortstop Reid Bourque. Ryan Humeniuk singled to right center field to take advantage of the extended inning, scoring Deaville from third for the 1-0 lead.
The Warhawks would load the bases following Humeniuk’s single, but couldn’t add anything else on in what turned out to be ULM’s only offensive threat of the game.
McNeese tied the game in the fourth inning when Jake Dickerson snuck a solo home run inside the left field foul pole. The Cowboys took the lead for good on a two-run homer by Bourque in the fifth inning, chasing ULM starting pitcher Kayleb Sanderson from the game.
Sanderson threw four-plus innings in the start, giving up all three runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts to take his second loss.
McNeese starter Cameron Foster kept the Warhawk offense at bay. While the Warhawks had baserunners throughout the game, stranding nine men on base, Foster kept the ULM threat to a minimum. Foster picked up his first win by throwing 5 2/3 innings, giving up an unearned run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Warhawks also couldn’t solve relievers Isaac Duplechain and Hunter Reeves, who each threw 1 2/3 innings, with Reeves picking up his second save.
Justin Barton had a solid outing out of the bullpen, throwing 3 2/3 innings with no runs on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Brock Figueroa recorded the final out of the eighth inning for ULM.
“I felt like he was going to be a weapon for us this weekend with all the lefties that they had,” Federico said. “Fortunately we didn’t have to use him. I thought it was a great match-up right behind Kayleb. I was hoping Kayleb could have got through that inning at 1-1. We had to go to him at that point, just because I thought Kayleb was done at that time.”
The Warhawks won the weekend series, two games to one, after winning 8-2 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. It marked ULM’s final non-conference weekend series. After a double mid-week set with Ole Miss, the Warhawks host Arkansas State on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the first series in Sun Belt Conference play.
“That’s ultimately, when I built this schedule, was a place that I thought would be a great opportunity to get us ready to go to Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern and UTA,” Federico said. “This is a traditionally rich program. You look out on their outfield wall, they’ve got conference championships, regionals, and so have we. I tell our guys all the time, this is a new decade of Warhawk baseball. I want to get some of those things on our wall just like they have. I’m proud of where our guys are. “
ULM hosts Ole Miss at 6 p.m. Tuesday and 4 p.m. Wednesday at Warhawk Field. For tickets, call 318-342-HAWK or visit ULMWarhawks.com. Links to live video, audio and stats are available at ULMWarhawks.com.