SHREVEPORT, La. - It may have been one of the coldest days ever for home baseball in the month of April, but the Maroon and White warmed up the faithful with an exciting bottom of the ninth in game one and a hot start in the first inning of game two.
The Diamond Gents took the first game of the doubleheader, 6-5, on a walk-off single by Chris Zapata, while they scored a trio in the first inning of game two and never looked back as Centenary (18-9, 9-0 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) took game two from Southwestern (12-14, 5-7 SCAC) 8-0 to cap the first home conference series of the season Saturday, April 7.
Centenary has started 9-0 in SCAC play for the second consecutive season.
Tied at five in game one in the bottom of the ninth, senior Nicholas Delaneuville drew a walk and was lifted for junior pinch runner Charlie Allbritton. Delaneuville finished the doubleheader 1-for-3 with five walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a run scored.
Allbritton was quickly sacrificed to second by freshman Peyton Cormane before Zapata poked a 3-2 pitch into right field to score Allbritton and give the Gents the win.
Senior Cole Lavergne (3-2) threw the final two innings, allowing one hit. Lavergne also picked up his fifth save of the season in game two, retiring all nine batters in order he faced while striking out five.
After Southwestern took its first lead of the series with a run in the top of the first in game one, Centenary responded with three runs in the bottom of the second. Junior Cameron Guin led off the inning with a single, advanced to third after a groundout and a stolen base, and scored on an RBI groundout by junior Andrew Russell. Freshman Tyler Welch fouled off three pitches on a 1-2 count before a single to left center. After a stolen base, Welch scored the go-ahead run on Lavergne's 3-2 single to right field. Two walks loaded the bases before the Gents scored an unearned run when the Pirates shortstop could not handle a ground ball that scored Lavergne.
Meanwhile, Southwestern retook the lead with a single tally in the third and two in the fourth. In the third, a two out error put Byron Dowdell II on base. After a stolen base, Dowdell scored Southwestern's second run of the game on Kelly's two-out single. In the fourth with two runners in scoring position, Seth Sparks tied the game on a two-out single through the right side. Dowdell added a double to right field to put the visitors up 4-3.
Cole Kelly and Dowdell both led Southwestern with a pair of hits and a run scored. Dowdell added a pair off RBIs while Kelly drove in one run.
After two Gents were retired in the sixth, Centenary retook the lead on only three pitches. Lavergne reached on an infield single and advanced to third on Delaneuville's only hit on the day. Cormane then took advantage of the right fielder playing shallow, lofting the first pitch he saw over the fielder's out-stretched glove. The ball rolled far enough away to empty the bases as Cormane motored to third for his second triple of the season.
Southwestern tied the game in the eighth on Hayden Craig's two-out single to center.
Pirates starter Will Preston (2-2) took the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) with five walks and three strikeouts in eight innings of work and 134 pitches. Preston was pulled in the ninth with a 2-0 count on Delaneuville; however, since Delaneuville walked, the eventual game-winning run was charged to the starter.
Game two was all Centenary. In the first inning, Cormane doubled and swiped third when Zapata walked. Sophomore Cody Crowder singled in the first run of the game. However, the Gents put pressure on the Southwestern defense with key bunts to plate two more runs. Guin laid down a bunt to third. He would have legged out the bunt anyway, but the throw to first was skipped by the third baseman and allowed Zapata to score. With runners on first and second, senior Ian Graham laid down a sacrifice bunt right back to the pitcher. However, the first baseman could not handle the throw and Crowder scored the third run of the inning.
The Gents added a single run in the fifth before blowing the game open with three more in the sixth. With one out and a runner at third, Graham singled to right field for an RBI. After an infield single by junior Andrew Russell, a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Freshman Preston Ludwick fell into a 0-2 hole, but he worked the count full and found the gap in right center to score a pair.
Ludwick finished the game with a pair of doubles, finding the gap in right center again in the eighth with one out. He scored the final run of the game when Lavergne singled to center field.
Junior Matthew Deviller (4-2) dropped his season ERA under two, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out eight in six innings of work of game two.
Centenary returns to action Monday night, April 9, when it travels to Louisiana College. First pitch against the Wildcats is slated for 7 p.m. on Cox Sports.