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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 17, 2024

POPLARVILLE, Ms. – LSU Eunice Baseball continued its formula of strong pitching and timely hitting to capture a 7-2 victory over Jones College and secure the Region 23 Championship on Friday at Deb Herring Field.  The Bengals (52-7) won the program’s 11th Region 23 Championship in its 20-year history of play in NJCAA Division II Baseball.

LSUE earns an automatic berth into the NJCAA Division II Baseball National Tournament as the Gulf District representative.  The Bengals will be part of the 12-team field to take over Enid, Oklahoma from May 25-June 1 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

For the fourth straight game in the Region 23 Tournament, the Bengals lit up the scoreboard in the first inning.  This time it was Dawson Willis making his presence known with a lead off solo home run, the start of another big afternoon for the sophomore co-captain.

Jones was quick to answer Willis’s homer, striking for runs in the first and second inning to take the early lead.  It was again the long ball that helped LSUE respond as Teddy Johnson launched another solo shot in the fourth inning to tie the game.

A pitching duel would ensue for much of the game as Liam Watt held the Bobcats’ offense at bay.  After the two early runs, only one of them earned, Watt settled in to limit Jones to one batter over the minimum during the middle third innings.  The defense played a vital role in Watt’s outing, getting inning ending double plays in the fifth and sixth frames.

Watt improved to 5-2 on the season after the six-inning performance, giving up two runs off four hits and a walk.  Watt struck out six batters while issuing one walk and hitting a batter.

LSUE finally regained the lead in the seventh inning as Willis set the table with a lead-off single.  After a balk advanced him to second, Weston Fulk drove in Willis with a RBI single.  A batter and pitching change later, Teddy Johnson singled home Fulk to give LSUE a 4-2 cushion.

The Bengals would get three insurance runs in the ninth inning, using five free passes and a Jackson Legg pinch hit RBI single to push the LSUE edge to 7-2.

That was more than enough for the relief duo of Parker Webb and Collier Barham.  Webb was electric in the seventh, using two strikeouts and a lineout to squash the Bobcats in the inning.  He’d fall into trouble in the eighth with walks and wild pitches putting two runners in scoring position but rose to the challenge by striking out two more batters and ending the threat with another line out.

Barham worked around a two-out single and induced a pop-up to Tyson LeBlanc to set off the celebration.  The LSUE pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts in the championship game, bringing their four-game total to an impressive 44 punch outs.

Johnson tied a career-high with three hits in the title tilt, driving in a pair of runs and scoring once.  Willis joined him with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.  He would add a pair of stolen bases.

The Bengals played in their sixth straight Region 23 Championship and made it to the finals for the 16th time in their 20 years under the leadership of head coach Jeff Willis.  It was the first time since the 2015 NJCAA National Championship team that LSU Eunice went through the Region 23 Tournament unbeaten.

The full tournament field for the NJCAA Division II Baseball National Tournament will be unveiled on the NJCAA Network on Tuesday, May 21 at 10:00AM.

Authors

  • Bobby Ardoin
  • Courtney Jennings

    Courtney Jennings is a contributing writer with St. Landry Now since 2023 covering local events throughout the parish. She also runs the local publication MacaroniKID Acadia-St. Landry, an online publication and weekly e-newsletter on family friendly activities, local events, and community resources for parents.

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