Louisiana-Lafayette scored three first-inning runs then rode the arm of starting pitcher Nick Lee to a 4-1 win over McNeese here Wednesday night in front of 5,174 fans at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Lee (6-4), the Cajuns’ regular Saturday starter up until a couple of weeks ago, held McNeese (31-16) hitless through four innings then got the Cowboys to hit into double plays in the sixth and seventh innings, killing what could’ve been big innings for the Cowboys.
“Credit them (ULL),” said head coach Justin Hill. “They made pitches when they needed to. We had some hard hit ball but a lot of at ‘em balls too.”
ULL (30-19-1) got a lead-off single by Zach LaFleur then a Brenn Conrad walk to start the bottom of the first. Steven Sensley followed with a triple to score both runners to make it 2-0. He was then knocked in by a grounder from Joe Robbins to give the Cajuns an early 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Lee was coasting early by getting through the first four innings without allowing a hit but walking four batters in that time.
Mitchell Rogers gave the Cowboys their first hit of the game with a lead-off single in the fifth. Robbie Podorsky followed with a bunt single then Dustin Duhon loaded the bases with an infield single to the hole between shortstop and third base.
Ricky Ramirez, Jr. put the Cowboys on the board with a sacrifice fly to score Rogers and cut the ULL lead to 3-1 but the following two base runners would be left stranded when Shane Selman grounded out to end the inning.
McNeese had opportunities in both the sixth and seventh innings, but after getting the top two runners on base with no outs, both potential rally frames were squashed by double plays.
“I take blame for that,” said Hill. “We have runners on first and second with no outs and I got greedy. I need to do a better job of giving our guys a chance to be successful. We should’ve bunted the runners over in both situations. If we do that then get runs in, it’s 4-3 then we’re one hit away.”
Lee picked up the victory for the Cajuns after he allowed one run on six hits in seven innings of work. Dylan Moore earned his 10th save of the season after throwing the final two innings of perfect baseball.
Cowboys’ starter Zach Rider (1-1) took the loss after he gave up three runs on two hits in one inning. Rider was the first of seven pitchers to see the mound for McNeese. Bullpen work of Peyton McLemore, Tyler Wesley, Bryan King, Gavin Sonnier, Grant Anderson and Collin Kober, combined to throw eight innings and give up one run on six hits with five strike outs.
McNeese finished with six hits in the game scattered among six batters.
Alex Pinero led ULL’s eight-hit attack with three knocks on the night.
The Cowboys will be back in action this weekend when they visit Creighton in a three-game series beginning on Friday morning at 11 a.m.