Jack Dallas and Lamar Cardinals earn No. 2 seed, head to WAC Tournament

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, May 24, 2022

BEAUMONT – Setting a new Lamar record that he already owned, West Orange-Stark graduate Jack Dallas nailed down his 13th save of the season and with the 2022 regular season in the books, the Lamar University baseball team now turns its attention to the postseason.

The Western Athletic Conference Championship tournament is set to begin Wednesday morning from Hohokam Stadium – the spring training home of the Oakland Athletics – in Mesa, Ariz.

The Cardinals (36-19) open the tournament Wednesday in the third game of the day against Seattle University. Big Red locked up the WAC Southwest Division No. 2 seed Saturday afternoon, finishing off a sweep of Tarleton State with a 5-4 victory at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

The Cardinals posted a 20-10 (.667) record in conference play to earn the division’s second seed – just a game back of Sam Houston, who they defeated four times to win the season series.

Wednesday’s opening-round game against the Redhawks is slated to begin at 4 p.m. (6 p.m. Beaumont time).

The Cardinals enter the postseason riding a season-best seven-game win streak, including consecutive series sweeps. LU recorded four series sweeps on the season. LU will face the third-seeded team from the West Division – Seattle. The Redhawks (16-32/11-19 WAC) enter the postseason from the opposite end of the spectrum having dropped five straight to close the year, but faced WAC regular-season champion Grand Canyon in Phoenix to close out the year.

Big Red’s 36-win campaign represents the most wins since 2013 when the Cardinals won 39 games.

Every game of the tournament will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

The Cardinals closed out the 2022 regular season in style, winning their final seven games, which included a series sweep over Tarleton State. The Cardinals (36-19/19-10 WAC) recorded a 5-4 victory Saturday afternoon to put the final touches on the season-ending sweep.

The win secured LU’s 36th win of the season, the most wins for Big Red since 2013.

The Cardinals scored their five runs on 10 hits with one error in the game. Tarleton State finished the game with four runs on 10 hits.

Seven different Cardinals recorded a hit Saturday led by multi-hit efforts from Kevin Bermudez (2-for-4, 1 RBI and 1 run), Chase Kemp (2-for-4, 1 RBI and 1 run) and Josh Blakenship (2-for-4).

Joe Buckendorff got the start and went 3.1 innings allowing just one earned run (in the first inning) on two hits with five strikeouts. Buckendorff gave way to Ellis in the fourth inning who went 3.0 innings allowing just one unearned run on three hits with six strikeouts. Ellis got the victory to improve to 2-1, while senior Dallas came on to pitch a scoreless 9th for his single-season record 13th save.

After Tarleton took an early one-run lead in the first inning, the Cardinals answered back with three runs in the fourth to take their first lead of the game. The big hit in the inning was a Matthew McDonald no-doubter to left field for his sixth home run of the season and his 39th, 40th and 41st runs driven in on the year.

The Cardinals were back on the attack in the fifth when they scored two runs on three hits. Kirkland Banks led off the inning with a single followed by an Ethan Ruiz walk. With two on and no out, Bermudez took the second pitch he saw right back up the middle to score Banks. Kemp followed suit with a double to right field moments later plating Ruiz.

The Cardinals held the four-run lead going into the seventh inning with TSU tacked on a run. The Texans made things interesting in the top half of the eighth. With two runs already in, and the bases loaded, Tarleton’s Dylan Choy Foo smoked a ball down the third base line that was snagged on a dive by Ruiz to bring a heart-stopping end to the inning. As it turns out, that would be best and final opportunity for Tarleton to tie things up as Dallas came on in the 9th to close the door.

With the victory the Cardinals officially locked up the No. 2 seed in the WAC’s Southwest Division.