McNeese center fielder Robbie Podorsky's fifth-inning stolen base, the second of three on the night for the first-year Cowboy, surged the junior transfer into the McNeese record book with his 36th stolen base of the season, breaking the previous record of 35 held by Jason Alleman and Jace Peterson. His third swipe of the game increased his record to 37 by the end of the contest.
The event was the highlight in a 5-4 loss to the 18th-ranked Houston Cougars in the final non-conference game of the season for the 28th-ranked Cowboys.
"This is a kid who was told he wasn't good enough to play college baseball and a kid who has overcome a lot of stuff," said head coach Justin Hill. "I'm so glad, not just for what he's done for us, I'm just glad that we get a chance to be in his life and he's a part of our program."
Podorsky led McNeese with three hits on the night, finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three stolen bases, giving him 37 on the year, ranking first in the NCAA.
"It's very humbling (setting the record)," said Podorsky. "Coach brought up a point in the huddle after the game. Last summer, I didn't have a place to play at first. Having the opportunity to come here has really been humbling. We have a great thing going here. A great team and great coaches."
Podorsky scored the game's first run in the third inning after he singled up the middle then tied the stolen base record with his first steal of second. He came around to score on a Ricky Ramirez, Jr. single to right field to put McNeese up 1-0.
Starting pitcher Gavin Sonnier got his first collegiate start and didn't disappoint after throwing three hitless and scoreless innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
"It was good to see him (Gavin) go out there and put up three zeroes in his first college start," said Hill. "It wasn't perfect. It's never how you draw it up. He got out of a jam with a big pick play. That was a really big play that showed his growth and what he's doing. I'm proud of what he did."
Houston (34-18) tied the game with a run in the fourth before McNeese (34-17) took a two run lead at 3-1 after plating two in the fifth behind a RBI single from Joe Provenzano and a RBI fielder's choice by Shane Selman. Podorsky started things off with a single up the middle, the second lead-off single he had of the game.
In the sixth, Houston put the first two batters on base with a walk and a single, then tied the game with the help of a throwing error by Grant Anderson to make it 3-3.
Ramirez added his second RB of the game with a single in the bottom of the sixth that scored Mitchell Rogers to make it 4-3 but the Cougars came back with two more runs in the seventh when a two-out wild pitch by Tyler Wesley allowed the tying run to get to third then scoring on a Grayson Padgett single. Two batters later, Padgett scored on a Jake Scheiner single to put the Cougars up 5-4.
"It was a tightly contested game," said Hill. "I don't think either of us necessarily played great. We were both kind of looking towards the weekend a little bit as far as the way we managed the game. We made some mistakes and I think the ones we made cost us. But I'm choosing to look at the positives.
"I thought we hit the ball really hard and they kinda found leather and I thought they hit some just out of reach. That's baseball though."
McNeese had a chance in the bottom of the ninth when Provenzano reached on a one-out error. Selman, the team's home run leader with 13 on the season, sailed a ball to deep right-center field but was brought in at the warning track by John Grimsley for the second out. Dustin Duhon grounded out to second base to end the game.
The Cowboys had 10 hits on the night, all singles. In addition to Podorsky's three base knocks, Ramirez added a 2-for-4 night while Rogers finished 2-for-4.
"We've been hitting some barrels lately," said Hill. "We've been swinging the bats a lot better. Shane smokes a ball in the ninth. We had a lot of balls hit right on the screws but they were in the right position."
Wesley (2-1) took the loss after giving up two runs on three hits in an inning of work. He was the fourth of six pitchers to see the mound on the night for McNeese.
Nolan Bond (1-0) came out of the bullpen to get the win for Houston. Bond allowed just one run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings.
McNeese will play for the Southland Conference championship against Lamar when its final three-game Southland Conference series of the season gets underway on Thursday.
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