Gents Eliminated From Mid-Con Baseball Tourney
Friday, May 28, 2004

SHREVEPORT – Timely hitting by Southern Utah and the lack of the same by Centenary led to a 7-4 victory by the Thunderbirds in Friday afternoon’s elimination game of the 2004 Mid-Con Baseball Tournament, sending the Gents home without a victory in their first Mid-Con tournament appearance.

Centenary could not drive runners in when it needed to, leaving 13 runners on base in the game. Twice the Gents left the bases loaded, and two runners were stranded at the end of three other innings. The Thunderbirds could have put the game away sooner, but left nine runners on base.

Southern Utah took advantage of its first opportunity in the bottom of the first inning, as Amos Burgess singled to right field, driving in Jason Ruiz to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead. Southern Utah had a chance to score more runs, but Kory Drew ran too far off third base after a bad pitch and was caught in a rundown.

The Gents took the lead in the top of the second inning thanks to fundamental bunting and bad fielding by Southern Utah. After Alex Valdivia singled, the Thunderbirds committed errors on back-to-back bunts by Jared Vincent and Jordan Standefer. A popup by David Kiefer turned into a sacrifice fly as Vincent hustled home, and a Blake Adkison single scored Bobby Gilliam to give Centenary a 3-1 lead.

The Thunderbirds tied the game in the bottom of the third inning on four consecutive singles from the top of the order. Then with two outs in the same inning, Tony Cardone was unable to handle a bad hop on a grounder by Shelby Guest, allowing Burgess to score and chasing Centenary starter Will Kaage from the game.

After a Kiefer home run in the fourth inning knotted the game at 4-4, the two teams stayed tied until the bottom of the seventh, when the Thunderbirds struck for three runs off of Centenary reliever Kevin Cassidy (3-7) to take a 7-4 lead. Doubles by Burgess, who drove in three runs during the game, and Guest gave Southern Utah the margin it needed to remain alive in the Mid-Con Tournament.

Thunderbird shortstop Jason Ruiz reached base in every plate appearance, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a triple, and three runs scored, plus he was twice hit by a pitch. Justin Abbott (7-5) fought through some rough patches and pitched a complete game, striking out four batters along the way. For the Gents, Gilliam, Kiefer, and Valdivia each earned three hits in the team’s final game of the season.

Southern Utah moves on to face the loser of the Western Illinois-Oral Roberts game later Friday at 7 p.m. Centenary (23-31) is the first team eliminated from the tournament in 2004.