McNeese had the tying runs on base with no outs in the top of the ninth inning but Sam Houston State reliever Dominic Robinson closed the door on an 8-6 Bearkat win over the first place Cowboys and winning the Southland Conference series two games to one.
McNeese (29-13, 19-5 SLC) had more opportunities than just the ninth inning to score runs but didn't execute when needed.
"I don't think the game was necessarily won or lost in the ninth inning," said head coach Justin Hill. "But that will stick out. We had opportunities early but we couldn't hit the shutdown inning."
McNeese led 2-1 after the top of the fifth inning following a RBI single by Mitchell Rogers then a run-scoring ground out from Will Fox.
The lead was short lived as the Bearkats responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, led by a two-run home run off the bat of Josh Biles, to put the Bearkats up 4-2 and give them a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We just didn't pitch good enough today," said Hill. "We walked guys. We were behind the count. We just did not stay in good counts to be able to give our offense a chance to get going."
SHSU starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski (7-2) got the win and was cruising until the Cowboys' bats started to rattle him in the seventh inning.
Trailing 6-2, McNeese closed the gap to 6-5 after Shane Selman got things going with a lead-off single. A couple of Bearkat errors kept the inning alive for McNeese which led to a two-run double by Dustin Duhon to cut the gap to 6-5 and put runners at second and third with one out.
A strike out by Ricky Ramirez, Jr. was followed by a groundout by Matt Gallier to keep the runners stranded.
The Bearkats (29-15, 15-6) tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning to go up 8-5 but McNeese answered again in the ninth with a run in and the tying runs on second and third with no outs but Robinson got the next three batters down in order to notch his first save of the season.
McNeese left eight runners on base for the game, six of those in scoring position.
"I didn't think on both sides of the ball, we just didn't play good enough today," said Hill. "I thought the effort was there, we just didn't play good enough."
Selman led the Cowboys at the plate with a 3-for-4 day with two runs scored while Duhon, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, went 2-for-2 with two doubles.
Starting pitcher Bryan King (3-2) took the loss after he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Bearkats put 10 hits up on the board and were led by two-hit efforts from Biles, Andrew Fregia and Clayton harp.
Despite the loss, the Cowboys keep their lead atop the conference standings and will play their final two league series at home beginning next weekend against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi while the Bearkats will visit Southeastern Louisiana.
McNeese will next be in action on Tuesday when it returns home for the first time in two weeks to play LSU-Alexandria at 6 p.m.