By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette
LAKE CHARLES – The motion picture "The Sandlot" was one of the greatest kid baseball movies ever made and one of the most dramatic scenes was at the end of the movie when Benny "The Jet", a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, stole home in what is by far one of the rarest plays in baseball.
That scene was played out perfectly by McNeese second baseman Andrew Guillotte in the eighth inning when he stole home – a traditional steal mind you – to score the final run in the Cowboys' 6-2 Southland Conference win over Incarnate Word on Friday night to start a three-game series. It was well worth getting the front of his newly acquired gold jersey a little "dusty."
And if that wasn't enough, the steal came with the bases loaded and two out in the frame. Guillotte began his slide into home just as UIW pitcher Chris Jones' throw was getting to catcher Blue Hybner. Chase Marion and Reed Gordy also stole bags on that same play as the triple steal was tagged to perfection.
"Well, before you do that, the pitcher has to be throwing out of his windup," said Cowboys' skipper Justin Hill. "And you have to have the personnel to pull it off, and with Guillotte, we definitely have that."
That was Guillotte's second steal of the game and the 14th of the season and the Cowboys finished with six swipes overall. He also finished the contest hitting 2-for-3 from the plate with a RBI, two walks and three runs scored.
Perhaps none of the eighth inning excitement wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the superb pitching from starter Kaleb Fontenot, who suffocated the Cardinals' bats to just six hits in seven innings of work. He allowed two runs, walked none and struckout two. Of the six hits he squandered, three were infield knocks.
"He did kind of what he's been doing all year," said Hill of Fontenot, who improved his record to 4-1 on the season. "This was one of the best jobs he's done attacking the strike zone early. He had some innings where the pitch count got a little higher than he wanted to, but it wasn't for going deep in counts. They just kept fouling pitches off. I thought he had a couple of quick innings that allowed him to go deep in the ball game."
Fontenot was relieved in the top of the eighth when he gave up a lead-off double to UIW shortstop Bryce Shepherd. Tyler Erickson came in and walked the only batter he faced then Steven O'Bryant walked Jason Stone to load the bases with no outs in the frame.
O'Bryant then got Slade Brown to hit into a 6-unassiste-3 double play that scored a run, and fanned Jesse Hoover for the third out, all the while having allowed just one run in an inning that could have been a game breaker for the Cowboys.
"That was a huge inning, especially to get two outs on one swing and to just give up the one run," said Hill. "They (UIW) were in a really good spot. That was just really big by 'OB'."
O'Bryant notched his third save of the season after he threw two scoreless and hitless innings with two walks.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for McNeese as it improved to 21-19 overall and 11-8 in league play. UIW fell to 13-25 and 5-8 in the conference.
The Cowboys scored solo runs in the first two innings behind a RBI single by Marion and another from Guillotte. That score stood until the seventh when Hybner led off the inning with a double to right-center and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Ethan McGill to make it 2-1 Cowboys.
McNeese got a run back in the bottom of the inning after Guillotte led the inning off with a walk, moved to second on a one-out single by Marion, then third after a short chopper by Gordy was kicked around by Shepherd at shortstop to load the bases.
Tayler Drake came in and hit a deep fly ball to left-center to score Guillotte and make it 3-1.
The Cowboys put it away for good in the bottom of the eighth with the final run coming on Guillotte's unforgettable steal.
"It's good to win close games like this," said Hill. "We've lost some close ones lately but to win one keeps the energy going."
UIW starting pitcher Geno Encina (5-6) took the loss after he allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
McNeese out-hit UIW by a 10-6 margin as Marion and Connor Lloyd joined Guillotte with two hits apiece.
The series will continue on Saturday with first pitch tossed at 3 p.m.
McNeese 6, Incarnate Word 2 (Apr 25, 2014 at Lake Charles, La.)
Incarnate Word...... 000 000 110 - 2 6 1 (13-25, 11-8 SLC)
McNeese............. 110 000 13X - 6 10 0 (21-19, 5-8 SLC)
Pitchers: Incarnate Word - Encina, Geno; Decker, Matthew(7); Shaffer, Alex(8); Jones, Chris(8) and Besett, Colton; Hybner, Blue. McNeese - Fontenot, Kaleb; Erickson, Tyler(8); O'Bryant, Steven(8) and Toole, Cameron; Peterson, Sam.
Win-Fontenot, Kaleb(4-1) Save-O'Bryant, Steven(3) Loss-Encina, Geno(5-6) T-2:33 A-374
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 84, SSE 5 mpg
Fontenot, K. faced 1 batter in the 8th.
Erickson, T. faced 1 batter in the 8th.