SHREVEPORT, La. – Defensive miscues, great defensive plays, big innings, big deficits, big hits, a new Gents single season team record, and even a 50-minute rain delay: The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference series finale between the Gents and Mountaineers nearly had it all, but when the dust settled, Centenary (16-17-1, 8-4 SCAC) overcame a six-run deficit to complete its fourth consecutive series sweep of Schreiner (10-20, 3-6 SCAC) with a 9-7 win Saturday morning, April 6.
In the bottom of the first, Crowder stole the 102nd base of the season for Centenary. The number broke the season-old team record (non-scholarship era). Individually for Crowder, with six stolen bases on the weekend, he now has 20 stolen bases on the season and 47 for his career – breaking the record of former Diamond Gent Aaron Quintanilla (45, 2014-2017) and moving into second place on the single-season list (both records are non-scholarship era only).
In the bottom of the fifth with the Gents down 6-0, the skies opened up and led to a 50-minute rain delay. Upon the resumption of play with a runner on third for Centenary, a fly ball double play ended the threat. Centenary looked like it was running out of chances, but a key Schreiner error opened the flood gates.
Centenary started the sixth inning when junior Brock Yates took the mound in relief with no outs and a runner on base. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk put two runners on base with one out, a strikeout and groundout kept the Gents down six.
In the bottom of the inning, junior Cody Crowder walked before sophomore Preston Ludwick hit what looked like a tailor made double play ball to short. However, it ticked off the fielder's glove into short left to allow Crowder to take third. The Gents threat looked like it may come to an end after Crowder was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice and freshman Brandon Griffin ground ball, but a throwing error loaded the bases with one out. Centenary then got on the board when Guin hit a single to score the first Centenary run. Freshman Coleton Hinkle added a sacrifice fly and a two-out, RBI single by freshman Shane Salzman cut the deficit to three.
After Yates retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, Centenary went to work in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Chris Haggard drew a nine-pitch walk and Crowder also walked to bring the tying run to the plate. Ludwick added a double to deep centerfield. Despite the base runners having to hold in case of a catch, Haggard and Crowder motored home to cut the deficit to one. A single by freshman Cameron James and a groundout put the go-ahead runs into scoring position. Guin followed with a groundball to first, but Schreiner chose to go home and threw wild as everyone was safe and Centenary tied the game.
After a catcher's interference by the Mountaineers loaded the bases, Salzman scored a pair when he doubled to left. A squeeze bunt by senior Andrew Russell completed the six-run inning.
Ludwick, who leads the conference in RBIs (34) and is third in batting average (.381), tallied two hits in four at-bats with two runs and two RBIs. Salzman added two hits and three RBIs.
Throwing up crucial scoreless innings in relief in the sixth and seventh innings, Yates (1-2) allowed just a walk for his first collegiate win.
Sophomore Connor Cudd closed out the final two innings for his third save in as many games on the weekend. After allowing just a walk in the eighth, a hit-by-pitch and two perfectly-placed bloop hits scored a run and put the tying runs on base with two down. However, a diving stop and a strong throw to first, where Ludwick was able to grab the toss and stay on the bag, completed the Centenary sweep.
Schreiner took advantage of Centenary miscues to score a combined total of six runs (only two earned) in the second and third innings. In the second, after the leadoff man reached, the Mountaineers laid down a bunt. Sophomore Connor Lee looked like he would get an out at second, but a muffed throw allowed the lead runner to take third. A single by Jeffrey Williams put Schreiner on the board. A sacrifice bunt moved a pair of runners into scoring position before a single to left by Dominik Garcia plated a pair. After a single and walk loaded the bases, Osman Quintana hit a sacrifice fly as the Mountaineers led by four after two innings.
In the third with two outs, senior Kyle Barron looked as if the inning would end after a strikeout. However, the pitch was in the dirt and Centenary threw wildly to first. A single up the middle and a pair of RBI hits by Chance Goins and Garcia put the visitors up 6-0.
Garcia led the Mountaineers from the plate with a pair of hits, three RBIs, and a run scored. Rey Garza (2-1) took the loss, allowing three hits and four runs (three earned) in just a third of an inning.
Centenary returns to action when it hosts Texas Lutheran for senior weekend April 12-13.