Southeastern regains sole possession of first place in Southland standings with win over Abilene Christian
HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana used shutout pitching and a program-record five double plays Sunday on its way to a 7-0 win over Abilene Christian in Southland Conference action at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.
Brennan Stuprich (3-1), a freshman right-hander from Kenner, Louisiana, scattered six hits and three walks while striking out a career-high eight batters in eight innings of work to earn the win.
The Lions (20-12, 13-7 Southland) regained sole possession of first place in the Southland standings, reaching the midpoint of their conference schedule with a half-game advantage over McNeese (18-14, 12-7 Southland) and a full game over New Orleans (17-15, 12-8 Southland).
It took Stuprich a couple of innings to settle into a rhythm on the mound. He walked the first batter of the game and then surrendered a single before getting a strikeout and the first double play to end the inning.
A one-out double and another single put a pair of ACU (18-13, 10-10 Southland) runners in scoring position in the second inning, but a play at the on a fielder's choice and a strikeout ended the threat.
Southeastern got the bats going in the bottom of the second off Wildcat starting pitcher Spencer Chirpich, scoring five runs.
Preston Faulkner reached on a two-base throwing error by the shortstop to open up the frame, advancing to third base on a wild pitch. Nick Ray worked a walk before Chirpich hit Jacob Burke with a pitch to load the bases. Gaby Cruz grounded into a double play, erasing Burke, as Faulkner scored and Ray advanced to third.
With two outs, four consecutive Lion hits followed. Eli Johnson singled through the left side to plate Ray. Bryce Grizzaffi lined a single to right field that was misplayed, allowing Grizzaffi to reach third and Johnson to score from first. Evan Keller doubled in Grizzaffi and then scored on Tyler Finke's RBI single through the right side.
The Lions turned another double play in the third following a leadoff walk and then added another run in the bottom of the inning.
Leading off for the second time in as many innings, Faulkner was hit by a pitch. Going first-to-third on Ray's single to left, Faulkner scored on Burke's groundout to the second baseman.
Following a leadoff single in the fourth, Eli Johnson leapt up to haul in a line drive off the bat of left fielder Miller Ladusau and then doubled the runner off first.
Stuprich got his strikeout pitch working halfway through his outing, striking out a pair of batters each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He got one more double play in his final inning after a walk and single put runners on the corners with one out in the eighth.
The Lions picked their final run in the bottom of the eighth. Christian Garcia jumped on the first pitch of the inning and popped a ball into right field that kicked off the second baseman's glove for a three-base error. He scored on Faulkner's RBI single to center.
Junior right-hander Trey Harrington relieved Stuprich in the ninth, needing only four pitches to close it out. Pinch-hitter Bryson Hill grounded out on the first pitch of the inning. After hitting the next batter on the first pitch of the at-bat, Harrington got the record-setting double play on a 1-0 grounder to second to end the game.
The previous record of four double plays had been accomplished seven times, with the most recent being in a 9-1 conference win at McNeese on March 31, 2018.
Chirpich (3-2), who tossed a complete game, was saddled with the loss. Despite retiring 15-straight at one point, the right-hander allowed seven runs – only one earned – in eight innings pitched.