The Wildcats hosted their last series of the regular season against SFA. SFA was 19-28 for the season prior to this series, while ACU stood at the top of the Southland Conference with a record of 31-18.
“We had just come off of a series win against Sam Houston,” said head coach Rick McCarty. “We thought we had to win three games out of the series to guarantee the first seed, but some teams didn’t play, and Southeastern took a loss bringing the number of wins we needed down to two.”
The team had a chance to be the regular-season champions and earn the No. 1 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament.
ACU had a fast start to the series, taking the lead in the first game with scores from freshman left fielder Miller Ladusau and freshman shortstop Sebastian Randle. ACU was then tied 2-2 after a score in the third inning from SFA but shut them out at the top of the fourth. The team then proceeded to go on a string of seven runs at the bottom of the fourth, with the first score coming off of a hit by a pitch while the bases were loaded.
Then, Ladusau hit a home run that resulted in two additional runs from the runners on first and second. This was his sixth home run of the season and third straight series recording one. ACU won after the game was called in the seventh inning 13-3.
“Our pitcher threw extremely well once again,” McCarthy said. “We got out front with a good lead that first game. We put up some good quality at-bats throughout the lineup, which is always good to see.”
Coming into the doubleheader, ACU needed one more win or a Southeastern Louisiana loss to guarantee the No. 1 seed and Southland regular-season champions.
The Wildcats started with a slight lead 1-0 early in the first game of the doubleheader. Junior pitcher Genner Cervantes kept the Lumberjacks back and held them scoreless as ACU tried to swing something together. At the bottom of the fourth, ACU scored four times and again at the bottom of the fifth twice, putting them up 7-0. Sophomore pitcher Connor Carlton relieved Cervantes in the sixth after the Lumberjacks scored three runs.
ACU was still up 7-3, in which Carlton held off SFA, giving ACU the last win they needed. Not only did they win a game to guarantee the No. 1 seed, but Southeastern lost to Houston Baptist University at the same time, giving them the No. 1 seed even if ACU had lost.
“The doubleheader was weird; we got our dog pile in between games,” McCarthy said. “That’s the first time in my career that has happened. We knew all we had to do was win one game due to other teams not playing. When we won that first game, but we had to turn it right back around after that emotional moment for a second game.”
ACU came into the second game of the doubleheader crowned as the regular-season champions and 2-0 in their series. The Wildcats took an early lead in the bottom of the second 2-0, but SFA responded quickly, taking the lead 3-2 in the top of the third.
ACU proceeded to tie the game up at the bottom of the fifth with a score from junior designated hitter Tommy Cruz. ACU took the lead at the bottom of the sixth with two runs and a third run in the bottom of the seventh. SFA tried to come back and scored one run in the eighth but couldn’t catch up, losing 6-4.
This third win gave ACU an automatic series win, 3-0, going into the last game of the regular season.
ACU lost their last game of the season to SFA but was already guaranteed the No. 1 seed. SFA took an early lead in the first inning 2-0 and kept it all the way through the game, winning 9-3.
Three seniors were honored and two of which had been there from the early stages of McCarty’s ACU career. The two that had been here since 2019 were senior infielder Eric Wimpee and senior pitcher Spencer Chirpich. They both transferred to play ACU baseball McCarty’s second year coaching. The third player honored was graduate outfielder Mike Brown, who recently transferred from Wofford.
ACU now takes on Lamar as their first opponent of the Southland Tournament. The game will take place in Hammond, Louisiana, on May 26, at 12 p.m. The games will be broadcast on ESPN+.