Keegan Curtis and Anthony Herrera came into the 2017 ULM season expecting to be some of ULM's top performers. Curtis had struggled this season from his spot as the Saturday starter and had an 0-3 record with an 11.05 ERA coming into the game, while Herrera was only batting .233 with only 3 RBI on 20 hits.
Curtis and Herrera stepped up in a big way today as a quality start from Curtis and clutch hitting from Herrera vaulted the Warhawks to a 7-1 victory over the Little Rock Trojans, giving ULM their first conference series victory.
Curtis's location struggles looked like they were continuing early. He walked three batters in the top of the first inning before getting the third out without allowing a run.
The offense for ULM was unable to string together any hits for the first three innings. They were able to get 3 hits, but none of them really threatened a run as the game held steady at a scoreless tie through 3 innings.
Little Rock threatened to blow the game open in the fourth inning. Curtis hit the first two batters of the fourth inning, prompting a visit from Bruce Peddie. Curtis locked in from there, but the defense of the Warhawks let him down. Curtis got the next batter to ground into what looked to be a routine double play, but 2nd basemen Blake Buckman fumbled the ball out of his glove to load the bases. A run scored off a fielder's choice to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead. Curtis stopped the bleeding, forcing two consecutive groundouts to end the inning.
The ULM bats answered in the bottom of the fourth. Chad Bell reached on an error before a Spencer Hemphill double gave ULM runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Tyler Cox hit a ball to left that scored Bell, but Hemphill was thrown out at home while Cox advanced to second on the throw. This proved crucial as Anthony Herrera hit a single to right that scored Cox from second to give the Warhawks a 2-1 lead after 4.
The game stayed that way for two more innings as Curtis mowed down the Trojans with 3 strikeouts in the 6th.
That's when the Warhawks blew the game open. Three straight singles by Johnny DeLaCruz, Chad Bell, and Spencer Hemphill loaded the bases for ULM with 0 outs. Cade Harper grounded into a fielder's choice where the runner at home was thrown out.
Anthony Herrera stepped up to bat with the bases loaded. He had not recorded a hit this season with runners in scoring position. That changed as he hit a triple down the left field line that cleared the bases to give the Warhawks a 6-1 lead and increased Herrera's RBI total for the day to 4.
Keegan Curtis pitched into the 7th inning before making way for Chase Cater. Curtis left the game after pitching 6 2/3 innings, throwing 127 pitches while striking out 6, walking 5, and giving up 3 hits. Cater allowed a single but did not allow a run.
The Warhawks added a run in the bottom of the eighth after Cade Stone hit a double and was knocked home by a Nathan Reynolds single.
Herrera entered the game in the ninth in a non-save situation and sat down the Trojans in order to give the Warhawks the win on the day. The Warhawks moved to 3-3 in conference play with the win and 8-17 overall for the year. Keegan Curtis picked up his first win of the season.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: ANTHONY HERRERA hit 2/3 on the day with 4 RBIs.
The Warhaws travel to Ruston Tuesday to take on rival Louisiana Tech before travelling to Georgia Southern next weekend to continue conference play.