By Sports Information Assistant Hunter Bower
LAKE CHARLES – The McNeese State baseball team took advantage of four Missouri errors and used two clutch double plays to take a 3-2 victory over the Tigers in day two of the Lake Area Classic.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak against the SEC and gave the Cowboys their first victory over an SEC team at home since a 4-3 defeat of LSU in 2000.
"It's a good feeling to start the season off 2-0," said Cowboy skipper Justin Hill. "I was really proud of the kids and the energy they brought into today's game. Everyone pitched in offensively and defensively so it was a total team effort and a great team win."
Michael Clemens picked up his fourth career win and first of the season after fanning seven hitters and allowed just six hits over 6.1 innings.
"Michael gave us a great start and he was in the zone," said Hill. "We could tell he was a little tired there at the end but we certainly didn't stretch him. He just went out and gave us a great start and put us in good position to win the game. Everyone out of the bullpen did what we wanted them to do so again that goes back to a total team effort."
Missouri (1-1) took the loss after defeating Southern Miss, 4-2, in game one of the round robin tournament.
McNeese (2-0) was the first to break the scoring seal, capitalizing on a two-out double by Chayse Marion, who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, to give the Cowboys a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The Tigers tied the ballgame up in the top half of the second inning as Kendall Keeton led off with a single through the left side. With two outs and a runner on third, Jake Ivory blasted a double to left field and allowed Keeton to reach home.
The Cowboys regained the lead in the bottom of the third as an attempted pick off on Jackson Gooch at first allowed Andrew Guillotte to steal home and regain a McNeese lead, 2-1. The steal was one of three on the day for Guillotte who is now five steals away from reaching the all-time top ten steals list.
Keeton put the Tigers back in the game as his double down the left field line allowed Josh Lester to score to tie the game up at 2-2 in the fourth.
A chain of unusual events unfolded in the fifth inning with Guillotte who has singled earlier in the inning stole second before Gooch reached base on an error before another error from the Tiger defense allowed him to get to second. In the meantime, Guillotte took advantage of the errors and scored the run that would win the game.
With a Tiger runner at first and third, McNeese got help from its infield in the seventh as a double play prevented Missouri from tying the game.
The Cowboys used their magic again as the Tigers, who again had runners on the corners, were kept from scoring as 6-4-3 double play sealed the win for McNeese in the eighth inning.
"Wow, it's not like a video game where you can just draw it up but that's the whole idea of playing percentages," said Hill. "Our guys did a great job executing today."
Kaleb Fontenot picked up the save as he used 1.2 scoreless innings of pitching to end the game.
Missouri's Brett Graves took the loss after pitching 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on four hits with three strikeouts.