McNeese was looking for an exciting, dramatic, bottom of the ninth ending to Sunday’s rubber match game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Instead the drama went against the Cowboys as they fell 5-4 to the Islanders while dropping their first home Southland Conference series of the season.
After rallying from a 5-0 deficit early on, McNeese trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Shane Selman led things off with a single up the middle to put the tying run on base. Austin Nelson worked the count full then hit a line drive right to Islanders’ shortstop Cullen Jozwiak who appeared to have purposely dropped the ball allow him to turn a double play and pretty much stop the Cowboys in their tracks with a walk-off attempt.
That sent McNeese head coach Justin Hill into a frenzy as he was ejected after being granted a conference among the umpires, but was ruled a legal play.
“It was a good play by their shortstop,” said Hill after the game. “It was an intentional drop. And by rule, if it’s an intentional drop, they (umpires) kill the play. They just didn’t see it that way.”
Mitchell Rogers followed with a ground out to third base to end the game.
The Cowboys fell to 31-15 overall and 20-7 in conference play, maintaining a one-game lead over Sam Houston State in the loss column atop the league standings. McNeese will take a break from league play next weekend when it visits Creighton in Omaha.
AMCC (17-31, 9-15) kept its slim hopes alive for the postseason league tournament with the win.
The Islanders needed just one scoring inning on the day, that being a five-run frame in the second inning.
“We had one bad inning on the day,” said Hill. “We put ourself in that situation. Credit to Corpus. What they did all weekend, we never could put a big inning together.”
After the five-run second, three Cowboy relief pitchers combined to throw 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just four runs.
Tyler Wesley was the first out of the pen, relieving starter Bryan King with two outs in the second inning, and struck out five batters and allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 innings. Grant Anderson tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits allowed and Trent Fontenot threw the final 1 1/3 innings, retiring all four batters faced with a strike out.
“All three of those pitchers were great today,” said Hill. “They gave us a chance to get back into the game.”
McNeese got its first run in the third inning on a Rogers solo home run, his sixth of the season, to cut the margin to 5-1.
The next inning, McNeese got back-to-back singles from Joe Provenzano and Selman, then a fielder’s choice RBI by Nelson knocked in Provenzano to make it 5-2. Nelson had a hit taken away from him when his line drive to right field popped out of the glove of Dalton Stark whose diving attempt came up short. Because of the potential flyout, Selman had to hold close to first base to avoid being doubled up, but when the ball fell fair, Selman was too far away from second base as he was called out on a force play when Stark threw the ball in to second base.
In the sixth inning, Matt Gallier drew a one-out walk and Selman, who finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate, singled with two outs to put runners at first and second.
A pick-off attempt on Selman at first base by AMCC catcher Lukas Hermanson, sailed over the first baseman’s head and into right field, allowing Gallier to score to make it a 5-3 game. Nelson followed with a single to score Selman to close the gap to 5-4.
Islanders’ relief pitcher Chris Cooper, who got the win after throwing the final five innings to improve to 5-4), shut down the Cowboys’ bats the last three innings to secure the win.
Each team put 10 hits up on the board. In addition to Selman’s three hits, Robbie Podorsky added two, including a two-out triple in the fifth inning. Nelson led the team with two RBI.
The top five batters in the Corpus lineup finished 8-for-21 on the day with two hits each by Dawson Yates, Jackson Owens, Brett Burner and Stark.
McNeese starting pitcher Bryan King (3-3) took the loss after he lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up all five runs on six hits.
The Cowboys will be back in action on Wednesday night when they visit Louisiana-Lafayette in a makeup game from two weeks ago.