Laird's home run was one of four in the first three innings of the game for the Warhawks (2-2) as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Stephen F. Austin (4-1), who defeated No. 28 Texas A&M on Wednesday, rallied to tie the game with three runs in the fourth and five runs in the sixth.
Josh Chappell picked the perfect time to pick up his first hit of the season as he singled back up the middle with runners on first and second to hand the lead back to the Warhawks, 9-8, in the top of the seventh inning.
Jordy Poche, who finished the game 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, plated what proved to be the winning run with a single through the left side of the infield in the eighth.
Wil Browning worked a perfect eighth inning and pitched around a fielding error in the ninth to pick up his second save of the season. With one unearned run already on the board for the Lumberjacks in the ninth and the tying run on third base, Patrick Gratzke lined a ball that looked like it would land in the left-center gap to tie the game. However, Laird fully extended to make the catch and end the game.
Laird and Poche hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning to give the Warhawks an early 4-0 lead. Laird's 20th career homer scored Caleb Clowers and Nick Wade after the pair reached on back-to-back singles.
The lead swelled to 6-0 in the second after Jarrett Hammond hit his first career home run and Wade drove home Boomer Blanchard with a single to left. Blanchard doubled to chase SFA starter Tyler Herriage after just 1.1 innings of work.
Perry Smith got into the home run barrage in the top of the third with a two-run blast to center field. Poche scored on Smith's homer after leading off the frame with a single to left.
Wade, Laird and Smith each had a pair of hits for the Warhawks as they belted out a season-high 13 as a team. Garrett Smith led SFA going 3-for-5, while Bobby Loveless and Ryan Priest each had two hits.
The Lumberjacks finally broke through against ULM starter Drew Granier in the fourth on an RBI double by Loveless to score Bo Coffman. After Granier struck out Justin Long for the second time, Priest hammered a ball over the center-field wall to pull SFA within five, 8-3.
Priest struck again two innings later with a three-run homer after Poche replaced Granier to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Tanner Hines pulled the Lumberjacks within one, 8-7, with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Darren Crabtree, the ninth batter of the inning for SFA, doubled to left-center to score Smith and tie the game.
Josh Miller (1-1) picked up the win for the Warhawks after pitching 1.2 innings in relief of Poche. Granier took his second straight no-decision in a ULM win after allowing three runs on five hits over five innings of work.
Cody Priest (0-1) took the loss for SFA allowing two runs on four hits over 1.1 innings. Herriage was spared the loss after giving up six runs on six hits.
The Warhawks and Northwestern State (3-2) play Sunday at 3 p.m. for the tournament championship. The Demons defeated Creighton 8-7 in Saturday's first game. The game will be broadcast live on 540 AM in northeast Louisiana and worldwide online at ulmwarhawks.com.
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