JACKSON, Miss. - The Loyola University New Orleans baseball team will face #12 LSU-Shreveport for the GCAC Tournament Championship on Monday, May 10, at 4 P.M. at Smith-Wills Stadium.
Loyola (19-28), who came into the tournament as the sixth-seed, is looking to capture their first GCAC Tournament title since 2002. The Wolfpack reeled off four wins in the tournament, standing as the only unbeaten team remaining.
Second-seed LSU-Shreveport (45-11) is aiming for their fourth title in the last five years and will have to beat Loyola twice on Monday to claim the championship. LSUS took the season series against the ‘Pack 5-1, with Loyola winning 11-3 at Pilot Field on March 13.
In the tournament, the Wolfpack made easy work of Tougaloo College in the play-in game, knocking off the Bulldogs 15-2 on Wednesday. The next day, Loyola’s pitching staff shut down the top-seed #10 Belhaven Blazers on their way to an upset 5-3 victory.
On Friday, Loyola eliminated Spring Hill with a 14-6 win, finishing the game with 16 hits. In the match-up of the two undefeated teams on Saturday, the Wolfpack edged William Carey 7-6 after a two-run game-winning single by Tyler Duplantis in the final inning.
Loyola’s offense came alive at the right time, pounding out 52 hits for a .382 team batting average in the four games. The Wolfpack have also been patient at the plate, drawing 25 walks with only 15 strike outs.
Leading the offense in the post-season is left fielder Ryan Scott with a .529 average. In the four games, Scott has six doubles, a home run, and 11 RBI. Second baseman Brooks McMinn is right behind in average at .500. Along with seven hits, McMinn leads the ‘Pack with eight runs scored.
The bottom half of Loyola’s batting order has been impressive, led by catcher Bradley Brunet with six hits and six RBI. Also with six hits are shortstop/pitcher Taylor Domengeaux and first baseman Duplantis, who both have four RBI.
Domengeaux heads the pitching staff, throwing 12 innings in two starts. He picked up the win against Tougaloo and was in line for the win against William Carey, pitching Loyola to a 5-4 lead in seven innings. Mike Kelly shut down Belhaven in seven innings of work while George Smith threw five for the win against Spring Hill.
Loyola’s bullpen has combined for 10 innings of work, led by closer Kevin Fontenot with five. Fontenot picked up his fifth save against Belhaven and got his first win against William Carey. Joey Pajares was credited with his first career save after throwing four innings in the win over Spring Hill.
For the Pilots, LSUS opened tournament play on Thursday against fifth-seed Mobile and beat the Rams for the sixth straight time, winning 10-4. On Friday night, William Carey scored two runs in the ninth to tie the game before defeating the Pilots 9-7 in ten innings.
Facing elimination, LSU-Shreveport used two complete games by their starting pitchers on Saturday to knock out top-seeded Belhaven, 6-3, and William Carey, 7-1.
LSUS leads the NAIA in runs scored with 561 and is sixth in hits with 605. Andrew Blubaugh is hitting .420 in the tournament, followed by Andrew Brouillette and David Morgan at .380. Chase Wentz leads the Pilots with six RBI.
On the mound, Jared Mata threw 11 innings for LSUS including a complete game in Saturday’s win over William Carey. Mata posts a tournament best 0.82 ERA. Also on Saturday, John James held Belhaven to three runs in his complete game win.
First pitch for the championship game is set for 4 P.M. Smith-Wills Stadium is located in Jackson, Mississippi off I-55 on exit 98B at 1200 Lakeland Drive.
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