The LSU Shreveport Pilots (40-16) have gotten pretty good at claiming the conference tournament championships as they added to that chapter on Championship Tuesday at Pilot Field claiming their fourth consecutive conference tournament title. The win was their third straight in the Red River Athletic Conference as they defeated the no. 17 Texas Wesleyan Rams (40-16) twice on Tuesday to claim the title. The Pilots crushed the Rams in game one by a final of 19-6 to force the decisive game number 11 of the tournament and then won the nail-biter 5-4 in the night cap.
In the final game, Pinch-runner Jacob Lopez made the play of the year and it did not involve a glove or a bat but two quick feet. In the top of the eighth, first baseman Kyle Pearson drew a leadoff walk as he worked a full count. Coach Rocke Musgraves then brought in Lopez to add some extra speed on the bases and boy did it ever pay off.
Greg Friesen struck out swinging but the ball ricochet off the catcher towards the first base dugout which allowed Lopez to go to third. With the Texas Wesleyan catcher away from the plate Lopez came sprinting home and slid head first to score the go-ahead and eventually winning run.
Rory Young (7-2) worked a perfect 1-2-3 eighth and then worked around trouble in the ninth to claim the win. After two quick outs to start the inning, David Kiriakos kept the game alive for the visitors with a single and then Jake Howeth doubled down the right field line to set up an intentional-walk to Henry Yates to load the bases with two outs.
Young worked a 2-2 count to a First Team All-RRAC hitter Brian White who it a screamer that was gloved by the Pilots third baseman Kym Barthel who relayed to Parker Hebert for the force at second to end the game. Young worked the final two innings and a third allowing only two hits in the final inning and threw just 21 pitches.
Manny Estrada had a career day at the plate going a combined 7-for-8 with three rbis as he ended the day with a perfect 3-for-3 performance in the title game being only one of two Pilots with two or more hits as Kade Billeaudeaux was 2-for-3.
In addition to Estrada, two more Pilots enjoyed a multi-hit performance in game one's thumping of the then unbeaten Rams as Ridge Gonsoulin was 3-for-5 with three rbis and K. J. Semien was 2-for-5 and finished the day 3-for-10 but managed to extend his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out single of the Texas Wesleyan closer Patrick Stanley in the top of the ninth.
The Pilots will advance to the NAIA Opening Round that will begin on May 9th (Thursday) at a site to be determined. Today LSUS was release as no. 27 in the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll and that should improve when the final poll comes out this coming Sunday, the day in which the Pilots will also learn where they will go. There are nine different sites with five teams at each site to play in a double elimination bracket. The nine winners of the Opening Rounds will join Lewis-Clark State College for a 10-team double elimination World Series in Lewiston, Idaho (May 24-31) at Harris Field. The Pilots are three wins away from returning to Lewiston for the third consecutive year.