"All year long the guys have been battling and coming back in games and tonight they stuck with it and with two outs they kept getting the next batter up there," ULM head coach Jeff Schexnaider said. "Dexter came through with a big hit at the end and I am really proud of them and how hard they played the entire game."
A.J. Siggers got the inning going with a double down the line in right field and moved to third on a groundout. Matt Collins plated the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly, which also produced the second out of the final frame.
Nick Maragas was hit by a pitch and Matt Laird singled to left to get the top of the ULM (34-22) batting order to the dish. Jon Prevost cleared the bases with a double down the line in left pulling the Warhawks within two runs, 7-5.
Following a pitching change which brought Blue Raider (27-28-1) closer Langdon Stanley into the game, Prevost moved to third on a passed ball and Ben Soignier walked. Kyle Suire – who hit a home run earlier in the game – doubled to left scoring Prevost and put the tying run on third base for Fontenot.
The first-team all-conference selection got behind in the count 0-2 but battled back to even it at 2-2 before lining a ball into center scoring both Soignier and Suire to win the game.
"It is just an awesome feeling," Fontenot said. "It is every baseball players dream to do what I did tonight. I have always wanted to be up in that situation and have the chance to help my team win the game. If it wasn't for my teammates, then I wouldn't have had that opportunity. After the inning before when I hit into the double play, I really wanted another chance."
The Blue Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the strength of back-to-back home runs in the top of the third inning by Zach Barrett and Rawley Bishop.
Suire pulled the Warhawks within two at 3-1 with his 16th home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning.
ULM had a chance in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and just one out. With one run already across, Fontenot lined a ball right at the shortstop who was able to double-off Soignier on second base. If the ball had gone six inches to either the right or left, it would have cleared the bases and pulled the Warhawks within a run.
Grant Box pushed the Middle Tennessee lead out to 5-1 with a two-run double to left-center field and Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Bryce Brentz extended the advantage to 6-1 with a single in the seventh. Nathan Hines scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth stretching the lead to out to 7-2.
Making his ULM record 83rd career start, southpaw Jared Jennings allowed six runs – five earned – on seven hits and suffered from a tight strike zone allowing three walks – all of which came around to score.
The Warhawk bullpen was near perfect allowing just three hits and one unearned run as Derek Ward, Devin Pourciau and D.J. Fortenberry tossed the final three innings. Fortenberry (3-1) picked up the win after recording all three outs in the ninth inning.
Middle Tennessee starter Kenneth Roberts went 7.1 strong innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen. Brett Smalley was the first guy out of the pen and allowed four runs on three hits with a pair of walks, while Stanley (3-3) took the loss allowing two runs on two hits without recording an out.
The Warhawks advance to play fifth-seeded Western Kentucky tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a winner's bracket game. The Hilltoppers stunned fourth-seeded Florida Atlantic 9-0 in the first game of the tournament this morning. Tomorrow night's game can be heard live on ESPN 97.7 FM and ULMAthletics.com.