Hot-and-cold pitching leads to series split

Jonah Bostick, Sports Editor

The performance of a starting pitcher greatly impacts the outcome of the game. ULM found that out on both sides of the column. 

The Warhawks (4-3) played host to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (4-2) for a three-game series in Monroe. ULM entered the game riding off an 11-5 upset win over Mississippi State on Tuesday, and it looked to bring that momentum into the series against the Cougars.

Both teams were held scoreless through two innings, but concern brewed for the Warhawks as SIUE put runners on base while ULM couldn’t get anything going. In the top of the third, the Cougars got on the board with a pair of singles to go up 2-0. Pitcher Cam Barlow looked shaky as SIUE posted three hits in the first three innings. ULM responded with a Michelle Artzberger RBI single and forced a one-run game. 

The Cougars exploded in the fourth inning with a two-RBI double to make the score 4-1. A Brady Bunten two-run homer produced a 6-1 score through four innings, and Barlow’s night was concluded. He allowed seven hits and walked four batters in four innings. 

Cardell Thibodaux homered in the bottom of the fifth to put the Warhawks back in the game. A single by SIUE produced a 7-4 score through seven. 

The Warhawks attempted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth. They had two runners in scoring position at third and second base with no outs. Bullpen arm Zeus Ponder shut the comeback down with two strikeouts and a groundout, and the Warhawks lost game one. 

After struggling last week versus Bradley, pitcher Cole Cressend decided to make amends. In game two, Cressend pitched six innings, allowed five hits and struck out four Cougars. He also allowed only one run.

“The biggest adjustment I made was in my mental game,” Cressend said. “This week, my big focus was making sure that I stay in the moment and control the things I’m able to control.”

The Warhawk bats made sure to treat their pitcher with run support. They scored three runs in the third with base hits from Kade Dupont and Riley Davis. Jayson Zmejkoski hit a sacrifice bunt to score Zach Floyd after the former hit a triple. The Cougars scored their only run of the game off an RBI single. Floyd responded with a bomb to right field to get the run back and add to his standout performance. 

“I was just excited to be out there and get some playing time,” Floyd said. “Everyone is hitting, but it also helps when you get some barrels yourself.”

Kade Dupont went 2-3 at the plate and recorded an RBI. Jayson Zmejkoski also went 2-3 and scored a run.

Pitcher Nicholas Judice pitched three hitless innings, and the Warhawks evened the series with a game-two win. 

“I’m proud of the win, and that’s the most important thing,” head coach Mike Federico said. “Now we go to Championship Sunday tomorrow.”

ULM hosts Grambling State at home Tuesday night before traveling to San Antonio on Friday to take on Incarnate Word in a weekend series.