MONROE, La. - Maroon scored eight runs in the first three innings and cruised behind the solid starting pitching of Randy Zeigler, thumping Gold 10-1 in game three of the ULM Maroon & Gold Blood Series at Warhawk Field.
With the win, Maroon is now in control of the five-game split-squad matchup with a three-games-to-none lead.
The visitors struck immediately in the top of the first inning. Maroon left fielder Les Aulds led off with a four-pitch walk against Gold starter Cale Wine, stole second base cleanly and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gold catcher Joey Cesario. Taylor Abdalla grounded out deep in the hole at second to score Aulds and give Maroon a 1-0 lead.
Maroon recorded its most effective offensive surge in the next two innings. Jason Johnson singled to left to bring home Trent Lucas for the first tally of the top of the second inning. Wine (0-1) hit Aulds two pitches later to load the bases, then walked Jeff Fuller on a full count to push the frame's second run across.
Wine proceeded to hit his second man of the inning, clipping Abdalla and scoring Johnson to give Maroon a 4-0 advantage. After forcing Justin Stawychny to fly out with the sacks full, Wine tossed a wild pitch to the backstop to vault Maroon further in front 5-0.
After a solid no decision in game one of the series, Wine allowed five runs on five hits in his two innings of work, walking three and striking out one.
Gold reliever Brent Gay was not able to slow the Maroon bats in the top of the third. Lucas doubled down the first base line to open the inning, and later advanced to third on an error by Gold third baseman Joey Rapp. Rapp proceeded to commit his second consecutive error on a sharp grounder by Johnson, bringing Lucas home for a 6-0 Maroon lead A sacrifice fly from Aulds and a single by Abdalla made it 8-0 Maroon heading to the bottom half of the frame.
Gold finally picked up its first hit of the contest when Ryan Bergeron singled through the left side off Zeigler (1-0) to open the home half of the third. Bergeron stole second to move into scoring position and then advanced to third base on a ground out by Josh Faciane. Cody Stone saw two pitches before being hit by Zeigler, giving Gold its best chance of the game with runners on first and third and only one out. A rare double-steal, with Stone reaching second and Bergeron beating the throw with a headfirst slide into home gave Gold its first and only run of the ballgame.
Maroon would add a pair of insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings, but the most impressive player was Zeigler, who earned his first win of the series after tossing a masterful six innings of one-run ball. The southpaw allowed the lone Gold single to Bergeron in the third, walked none and struck out six on a series-high 92 pitches.
Johnson powered the Maroon offense with two RBI and two runs scored, while Lucas added a pair of base hits and scored three times.
The ULM Blood Series continues this weekend with game four scheduled for Saturday morning at 10:30, and game five set for a 2 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. Both games will be played under a seven-inning format as opposed to the traditional nine.