McNeese’s success against SEC baseball teams at Joe Miller Ballpark continued on Wednesday night when four pitchers combined to strike out 12 Mississippi State batters while getting home runs from Jake Cochran and Carson Maxwell to lead the Cowboys to a 6-3 win over the 21st-ranked Bulldogs.
It’s the third win over a SEC team at home in the Justin Hill era. The Cowboys defeated Missouri back in 2014 at the start of the season, and downed sixth-rank LSU 5-4 last year.
The win was the second straight for McNeese (2-6) while Mississippi State (3-5) dropped its second consecutive game.
“I thought out guys came ready to play,” said Hill who won his 132nd career game at McNeese, just nine short of moving into third as the school’s winningest coach. “The mood has been good. The attitude and the way we’ve carried ourselves has been really good.”
Things also started out good for the Cowboys after a two-run first inning that began when Jacob Stracner reached with a lead-off hit by pitch. Shane Selman followed with a one-out double to score Stracner to make it 1-0, then Joe Provenzano singled to right-center field to score Selman to make it a 2-0 game.,
McNeese had the bases loaded later in the inning following a Brett Whelton single and Maxwell walk, but was unable to add to its lead.
“We had a chance to really open things up there in the first inning,” said Hill. “But they’re (Mississippi State) a good ball team and they came back with a couple in the second inning.”
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Tyler Wesley gave up just two runs, both in the second, in his five innings of work, struck out five and walked none. He worked out of two-on, two-out jams in the third and fourth innings then retired the side in the fifth before giving way to the bullpen.
“He wasn’t perfect tonight but he was good,” said Hill of Wesley who improved to 1-1 on the season.
Peyton McLemore, Brody Strahan and Grant Anderson went the rest of the way to secure the win for the Cowboys.
In the fourth and tied 2-2, the Cowboys got a little bit of breathing room when Cochran hit his first home run of the season on a ball that cleared the left field wall by inches. That knocked in Stracner who reached on a two-out walk, and put McNeese up 4-2.
Then in the sixth, Reid Bourque hit a two-out triple over the center fielder’s head, then stole home on a straight up steal, to make it a 5-2 game.
Mississippi State posed its biggest threat of the night in the eighth inning with a bases loaded walk to make it 5-3 but Anderson, who walked back-to-back batters to get a run across, settled and go the next batter to strike out to end the threat.
That led to Maxwell’s gigantic home run in the bottom of the eighth that cleared the center field wall with tons of room to spare, giving McNeese a 6-3 lead.
Anderson struck out two batters in the ninth, bookended around a double, then go the final batter to ground out to third to end the game and pick up his first save of the season.
Bourque led McNeese with two of the team’s eight hits while also being a force on defense with six assists and no errors.
MSU put 10 hits on the board with three coming from DH Tanner Allen who finished 3-for-4.
Keegan James (0-1) took the loss after entering the game with one out in the first inning after starter Jarede Liebelt allowed two runs on one hit while getting just one out.
The Cowboys will be back home this weekend when they host UTSA for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6.
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