'Jacks unleash barrage of homers in route of Grambling

From SFA Athletics

About to set off on a road trip for their second Southland Conference series of the 2018 campaign later this week, the Stephen F. Austin baseball team had to made sure its offense was in good working order before reengaging in league play.

Senior second baseman Eric DeJesus erased an early 2-0 Grambling State lead by belting a go-ahead three-run homer - the first of four Lumberjack long balls on the night - during the SFA second to help the 'Jacks power past the Tigers 14-3 Wednesday night.

After the visitors opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the first, SFA responded by unleashing an 16-hit assault on its SWAC adversaries in order to put an end to a four-game losing skid.

"After Tuesday's game, we talked to our hitters about them trying to do too much with their swings," said SFA head coach Johnny Cardenas. "Today was all about simplifying our swings, making them a little shorter and the end result was a lot of line drives - some of which left the park."

In addition to DeJesus, Josh Evans, Jared Martin and Manny Vasquez each connected on solo home runs to help SFA post a new season-high in runs. Evans' bomb represented half of the senior's hits on the night as he finished 2-for-2 with two of the six walks drawn by the 'Jacks.

Evans also scored a pair of runs as did DeJesus and Vasquez who each collected a pair of hits, too. Between Evans, DeJesus and Vasquez, six of SFA's runs and six of its RBI were accounted for.

"Eric [DeJesus] has finally started to play like a senior," commented Cardenas. "It took a little bit to get his wheels moving but over the last few games he has done well at the plate and in the field. It couldn't have come at a better time, either."

Getting his first collegiate start, freshman Jordan Powell began his night in shaky fashion after issuing a walk and giving up a double to start the game. From there, an RBI groundout followed by an RBI single handed the Tigers their only lead of the game.

DeJesus' second-inning homer set off a chain reaction for the 'Jacks in the third as Martin and Evans went back-to-back in that frame to extend the home team's lead to 5-2. The 'Jacks put runs on the board in each inning but the first, sixth and eighth, continuing their onslaught with a three-run fourth which featured an RBI double from Vasquez as well as an RBI single off the bat of Nic Minor.

The first proved to be Powell's only rough patch of the game as the freshman settled down and fired a trio of scoreless innings to keep the Tigers off the board for the remainder of his outing.

Vasquez went yard in the fifth before the 'Jacks busted the game wide open by using a five-run seventh. Pinch hitter Will Cerny finished SFA's scoring in that inning by punching a two-run single to center field.

Both Austin Hearn and Cody Adams (1-0) pitched two frames of relief with the latter receiving credit for the win after facing the minimum amount of batters. Behind Powell, Hearn and Adams, SFA's defense turned a trio of inning-ending double plays which prevented Grambling State from getting anything going.

Richard Ortiz smacked a meaningless solo home run off of Cole Ridgely in the top of the ninth to close out the scoring for Grambling State. That round-tripper capped a three-hit night for Ortiz who finished the game with 60-percent of the team's five base knocks.

Grambling State starter Elijah Saunders (0-3) got hit with the loss after surrendering seven runs on five hits through three frames on the bump.

Back in the win column, the 'Jacks hope to sustain that momentum as they return to Southland Conference action this weekend. Abilene, Texas, is SFA's destination as the 'Jacks head northwest to take on Abilene Christian in a three-game league series. That set starts Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. from Scott Crutcher Field.