Luke Plucheck picked a great time to blast his first home run of the season. The Bearkats trailed Southeastern Louisiana 1-0 before Plucheck’s two-run blast sparked a four-run fifth inning on the way to a 5-3 series-clinching win Saturday.
“I’ll be complete honest, that’s a ginormous monkey off of my back,” senior left fielder Luke Plucheck said. “I’ve been waiting all season for that after having nine last year. I was looking for a ball I could drive but he put one in my slot and I put a good swing on it.”
The Bearkats (29-14, 12-8 SLC) will go for the series sweep Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for “Kids Free Day” at Don Sanders Stadium.
Following Plucheck’s homer, outfielders Travis Lee and Colt Atwood each legged out infield singles. Catcher Anthony Azar yet again came through with a big hit, blasting a two-run double that sailed over the center fielder’s head.
“Going into this weekend we knew how big it was,” Pluckeck added. “With Southeastern being in first place that puts us back at the top. It’s about us and not about anyone else. We’ve got 12 games left and we’re going to take them one at a time.”
One run isn’t going to beat us. You saw that last night and again today. That’s our offensive mentality.
The Lions got two runs back in the top of the sixth to cut it to a one-run game. Nolan Riggs came out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and two outs. He struck out SLU’s leading hitter Jameson Fisher on a full-count pitch to end the inning.
Riggs gave up just two hits over 2 1/3 innings. The tall righty struck out six batters, earning his first win of the season.
“Nolan has been good now three times in a row out of the bullpen,” head coach David Pierce said. “The biggest pitch of the game was the full-count changeup to Fisher, who’s their best hitter. He made a great pitch at the moment of truth when we needed him to.”
The Kats would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Shortstop Corey Toups led off with a walk before second baseman Shea Pierce singled through the right side of the infield. Plucheck drove in his third run of the game with a fielder’s choice groundout.
Ryan Brinley relieved Nolan Riggs in the ninth inning and allowed a lead-off double but struck out the final two batters to earn his fourth save of the season.