Baseball Wins Final Fall Game Over ULM

BILOXI, Miss. – The Samford baseball team competed in its final fall game and picked up a 13-10 victory over the University of Louisiana-Monroe at MGM Park Saturday.
The 13-inning contest was split in half after the first seven innings to allow the umpires to change equipment and positions, then playing the final six innings of the game after. The Bulldogs led 7-5 after the first seven innings and then outscored the Warhawks, 6-5 in the final six innings.
“When you play this many innings, in the fall, and pretty much play the entire roster it would be tougher to have had our guys play and compete better than they did today,” Samford head coach Tony David said.  
Samford used 13 pitchers in the 13 innings and 18 position players would get multiple at bats.
Samford jumped out on top early as sophomore shortstop Garrett Howe led off the game with a solo home run to right field, following a clean top of the first by junior pitcher Jalon Long. The Bulldogs would score in each of the first five innings.
Sophomore transfer first baseman Stephen Klein flashed the leather with two outstanding defensive plays to help escape trouble.  ULM had runners on first and third and Klein handled a difficult well hit ground ball and fired to second base to start a 3-6-3 double play. The next hitter followed with another tough grounder down the line which Klein ranged in front of to close out the inning to keep the lead at 1-0. 
“Klein has had an incredible fall,” David said. “He has barreled everything consistently but has the ability to be difference making defensively with his range and overall glove work.”
The scoring continued in the second when sophomore catcher Joseph Salvo doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a hard single to left by sophomore outfielder Blake Bortak. Howe struck again with a long home run over the scoreboard in right field to stretch the lead to 4-0. Sophomore pitchers Carson Hobbs and Cole Fryman each pitched strong in relief with two strikeouts each in their inning of work.
In the third inning, Klein hit long drive high off the wall in center field that kicked away from the outfield, allowing him to speed around the bases for a two-run inside the park home run to stretch the lead to 6-0. Monroe would answer with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Bulldogs answered right back in the bottom of the inning courtesy of Howe again with a double to left field and a 7-2 lead. After adding a run in the sixth and two in the seventh, junior reliever Alex Goff got a strikeout to close out the seventh at 7-5 before the pause for umpire change.
After the delay, in the second part of the game ULM jumped out with four quick runs in the first two innings following the continuation.  Samford answered with four runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. Bortak singled to score the first run followed by sophomore outfielder Maurice Hampton’s bases loaded walk. Klein struck again with a two-run single to right to tie the game.
Back-to-back innings ended with great defensive plays in the infield. Fryman handled a difficult hard hit ground ball with two runners on to end the inning, then the next inning freshman Michael Hopkinson made an incredible diving stop at third base with runners at second and third and made a perfect throw to close out the inning.
On the mound sophomore transfer Brody Westbrooks, sophomore Logan Jones, and freshman Will Lynch each tossed scoreless innings.
Trailing by a run freshman transfer Drew Byers ripped a hard single to left field and Hopkinson was thrown out at the plate on an outstanding throw.
Monroe hit a deep ball to left in the top of the last inning, sophomore outfielder Carson Eddy helped save the day with a great running catch before crashing into the wall. 
Down one in the last inning true freshman John Andrew Cash drew a two out, two strike walk to keep the game going. Sophomore Andrew Bennett laced a single to center field. The teams only senior position player, Graham Dvorak’s single to left field tied the game with two outs. After a walk to Hopkinson, freshman Matthew Strand singled to score Bennett and close out the game with a walk off.
Samford will officially close out the Fall with the Red vs Blue World Series this week with games Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in a best of three series.
David said he is pleased with the way his team has progressed during his first fall as head coach.
“It would be hard to be prouder of our guys than I am today,” David said. “It is the end of a long fall and we traveled down here today to play this game. They got off the bus ready to play and competed all day. We threw 13 pitchers today and really threw strikes for the most part. Defensively we had a long list of guys that made big plays in crunch time. Mo made a couple of big-league plays in center; Carson Eddy made a fearless play for a great catch. Klein, Hop and Fry each made great plays with the game on the line. It was impressive.”
The Bulldogs will open the 2022 season in February. The official schedule will be released later. David said he is excited about the team he has heading into this season.
“This is a group that has a chance to be really special defensively,” David said. “It was great to see the enthusiasm and competitive spirit at the end of a long day. Down a run with two outs, and two strikes on Cash. He had a tremendous at bat to draw the walk. And we followed it with several great at bats and three more hits in the inning to win it late. Our program has always done a great job of finishing out games, whether winning or losing to find ways to win. Even in the fall that is exciting to see.
“The weekend was a dream come true for me. To bring these guys down to my hometown and have us play so well here was incredible,” David said.

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