Winter in the south is never dull.
That was proven on Friday night when McNeese baseball's season opening game against Wichita State was halted in the ninth inning due to fog… yes, fog.
The game will be resumed at 1 p.m. on Saturday and game two will follow 40-45 minutes at the conclusion of game one.
Trailing 10-5 heading to the bottom of the ninth, McNeese got one out triple from Jake Cochran whose deep fly to right-centerfield might have been a routine fly out had the fog not played games with WSU center fielder Greyson Jenista as he was positioned about 15 feet away from where the ball landed.
Shane Selman followed with a ground-rule double down the left field line to score Cochran and close the gap to 10-6. That's when Shockers head coach Todd Butler made his way out of the dugout and asked the umpires to stop the game for safety reasons.
"At that point it's in the umpires hands," said McNeese fifth-year head coach Justin Hill. "It was the right thing to do."
Two innings earlier, the Cowboys' defense battled the fog that helped the Shockers plate three runs. With one out, WSU preseason all-American third baseman Alec Bohm flied out to deep right field as McNeese's Lachlan Mayo made a night running play for the catch. However he misjudged the cutoff man, possibly because of the fog, and the ball sailed over second baseman Welles Cooley's head to allow the runner at first to take second base.
The Cowboys intentionally walked the next batter to set up a force play but what followed was a series of hits – a RBI double by Dayton Dugas and a two-RBI double by Travis Young, that put the Shockers up 9-4.
McNeese, who had six players make their Division I debut on the night, battled back with a run in the seventh and one in the ninth before the game being called.
"There wasn't one infielder that has played an inning at their position," said Hill of the starting infield. Joe Provenzano was the only returner to play but he was positioned at first base, something new to him.
McNeese got on the board first when Selman blasted a solo home run on the game's eighth pitch with two out in the bottom of the first inning. It's the quickest home run hit by a Cowboy to start a season in school history.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Aidan Anderson was cruising through the first four innings, having allowed just a solo home run and the game tied 1-1.
But in the top of the fifth, things unraveled as the Shockers got a one out double by Gunnar Tourtwine whose pop up just behind third base was misplayed by the Cowboy infielders, then Anderson walked back-to-back batters and was lifted with the bases loaded.
Anderson ended the night throwing 4.1 innings and giving up four runs on four hits with a career-high eight strikeouts.
Austin Briggs came out of the bullpen and walked Jenista to score a run and put the Shockers up 2-1. Peyton McLemore relieved Briggs and was greeted by a Bohm grand slam to make it a 6-1 game.
"That one bad inning in the fifth; we had the two walks and we drop a pop up; it was tough," said Hill. "I'm not going to say it was a routine play but that's a play we have to make."
McNeese battled back in the bottom of the inning. Jacob Stracner singled to lead things off and advanced to second on a Reid Bourque grounder. Cooley walked and Dustin Duhon was hit by a pitch to load the bases where Selman struck again with a two-out single up the middle to close the gap to 6-3. While Provenzano was at the plate, Selman attempted to steal second to allow Duhon score before he was tagged out to make it 6-4 after five innings.
Selman ended the night 4 for 5 so far at the plate with four RBIs and a run scored. His first inning home run was the 25th in his career which moved him into a tie for 10th on the school's career home run record list.
"He came ready to play," said Hill of Selman.
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