HUNTSVILLE – The Southeastern Louisiana Lions got a great performance from starting pitcher Corey Gaconi and put up just enough offense to make it hold up, clinching the series with a 6-0 win over Sam Houston State on Sunday afternoon at Don Sanders Stadium.
Despite the series loss, the Bearkats (33-15, 19-5 SLC) still hold a 1.5-game advantage on the Lions (32-18, 19-8 SLC) in the league standings. It also snaps a streak of 21 consecutive Southland Conference series wins by the Kats at Don Sanders Stadium dating back to 2014.
Hayden Wesneski got the start for the Kats and was strong through six innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He had retired 10 straight hitters before a double by Daniel Wasinger in the seventh ignited a three-run inning for the Lions that put the game out of reach. Wesneski finished with five strikeouts and no walks in the game, but fell to 4-3 on the season with the loss.
Meanwhile, Gaconi was in control from the very start and kept it on cruise control throughout the day. The Lion starter needed just 93 pitches to go the distance to move to 5-1 on the season, striking out five hitters and walking just one. He allowed just two hits and four base runners in the game, with only one advancing past first base.
Southeastern got a run home in the third when Drew Avans singled home Nathan Pilutti who had doubled with two outs in the inning. Wesneski settled down from there, allowing just one hit in the next three innings before the Lions got going again in the seventh.
A one-out double by Daniel Wasinger and a single by Brennan Breaud put runners on the corners before SLU executed a double steal that upped the lead to 2-0. Cody Grosse followed that up two batters later with an RBI triple and Pilutti made it a 4-0 game when he beat out an infield single with two outs in the inning.
The Lions would also add two more runs in the ninth on a two-run double by Pilutti.
Sam Houston will remain at The Don for the middle game of its current seven-game homestand on Tuesdasy when it hosts Rice. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
Coach Matt Deggs on Sunday’s loss to Southeastern …
“They got after us pretty good. We just couldn’t get anything going. That’s the first time we’ve been shut out all year, but a tip of the cap to their kid. He pitched a gem. He got a lot of early outs out of us. We hit a lot of balls hard that just didn’t find holes. We defended it pretty well until the last inning, and I thought Hayden (Wesneski) pitched extremely well for us today.”
“They got after us in just about every phase and were able to go out and take the series. I know that does sit well with these guys. They don’t like losing, much less losing series. But our message is going to be that we are still on top and everything we want to do is still in our hands. We have to have short memories and come out ready to go on Tuesday.”