Hopper’s great start sparks Generals to win over Champion Christian

ALEXANDRIA—With Easter coming up, it comes as no surprise that a man named Hopper was the standout in an LSUA win.

Levi Hopper, a senior from Florence, Ala., allowed one run on three hits in 6.2 innings, leading the Generals to a 7-1 victory against Champion Christian on Monday afternoon at the Generals Baseball Field.

He has been throwing the ball well as of late, pitching to a 3.38 ERA in his last three appearances.

The victory is Hopper’s first as a member of LSUA and his 6.2 innings are the most he has pitched in a game for the Generals.

“Everything was working for me in the game,” Hopper said. “I started out the game by attacking with the fastball and once they started timing that up, I threw some off-speed stuff in there. It’s all about focus and preparation. We had a long week off, so I really had time to get my body ready.”

LSUA (13-12) won its fifth in a row and sixth straight against non-Division I teams. The Generals also won their sixth in a row at home, improving to a record of 6-1 at the Generals Baseball Field.

“We knew it would be a tough day with all the cancelled games last week,” LSUA Baseball Coach Steven Adams Jr. said. “Our goal today was to win to win at all costs and win ugly if we had to.

The Generals jumped out of the gate quickly, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead. Jordan Ardoin hit a single and Bershen Minninger reached on a walk to open LSUA’s half inning. Back-to-back errors trying to pick off batters at second base gave the Generals their two runs.

CC’s Jacob Lashley clobbered a double to deep left-center field to open the second and came around to score the lone run of the game for the Tigers on back-to-back groundouts.

The Tigers had chances to tie the game or take the lead, but the Generals pitching and defense kept the visitors off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.

In the fourth, it looked like CC was going to tie the game, as Joshua Tinnerello led off the inning with a triple, but he was quickly erased on a double play. The following batter was Darius Gaston, who hit a fly ball to right center to Alex Orenczuk. The LSUA outfielder threw a strike to catcher Louis Morgan, who applied the tag for the double play.

“It helps me out knowing I have a great defense behind me,” Hopper said. “It makes me settle down on the mound. It is nice to be able to throw the ball down the middle and let them hit it and let my defense do the work behind me.”

Hopper worked into and out of a jam in the sixth, walking two batters and uncorked a wild pitch to advance runners to second and third with one out. All he did was respond with consecutive strikeouts of Tinnerello and Gaston to end the threat.

“Levi really threw well and gave us exactly the start we needed,” Adams said. “The offense did the minimum today and we played really good defense. We did what we needed to do to win.”

With the Generals ahead 3-1, Hopper ran into a bit of trouble in the seventh. After retiring the first two batters, he allowed a hit and a walk before freshman Bryce Austin took over.

In his first action with the big club, the freshman induced a fly ball from Kris Bachman to center fielder Bren Faulk.

The Generals scored five runs from the fifth through the eighth inning to turn a close game into a one-sided affair.

Jordan Ardoin, who has at least one hit in 20 of the last 22 games, hit a single to shallow left-center field to score Zack Larson and Julien Kliebert to make it a 5-1 lead and LSUA never looked back.

Austin shut the door on the Tigers, as he allowed just a harmless two-out hit by pitch in the ninth, in his 2.1 innings in relief to record the save.

“It felt really great to get first action,” Austin said. “I’ve been waiting for a chance to do this since the first game. I feel like I showed myself and it felt great.”

Ardoin, Morgan and Kobe Baker all had two hits to lead the home team, which won the hit battle 9-3.

The Generals continue a string of three straight days with a game, as they take the trip an hour north to battle their second Division I opponent of the season when they battle Northwestern State.

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CUTLINE: Levi Hopper pitched a tremendous game, allowing one run on three hits in 6.2 innings, striking out eight, leading LSUA to a 7-1 victory over Champion Christian.
CREDIT: Cameron Mosely, LSUA Sports Media