LAKE CHARLES – The bats came alive for McNeese baseball, and in crucial times at that, as the Cowboys swept a Southland Conference baseball double header against Central Arkansas by scores of 6-5 and 8-3 and taking the league-opening weekend series two games to one.
The DH sweep improved McNeese’s record to 4-11 overall and 2-1 in conference play while UCA dropped to 7-8 and 1-2.
McNeese will be back home on Tuesday when it hosts the University of Houston with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
Heroics came into play in the first game and a grand slam capped off game two.
Leading 4-1 going into the ninth inning, Central Arkansas plated four runs to go up 5-4 going into the bottom of the frame.
After a Shane Selman strikeout and Joe Provenzano groundout, Jacob Stracner brought the fans to their feet when he drove an 0-1 pitch over the right field wall to tie the game at 5-5 and send it into extra innings.
Neither team scored in the 10th and pitcher Grant Anderson wasn’t threatened in the top of the 11th.
Selman, who missed a couple games last weekend and into the week due to a strained muscle, popped a solo home run over the left field wall, his fifth of the season, to give the Cowboys a walk-off, 6-5 win.
Anderson (1-1) picked up the win after he threw the final three innings while starter Tyler Wesley had a solid outing after he gave up an unearned run and three hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Offensively, McNeese put 10 hits up on the board as Selman, Stracner and Reid Bourque each posted two hits. Selman added a double to go along with his game-winning home run.
In the nightcap, the Bears jumped out to a 2-0- lead after two innings before the Cowboys came alive.
In the third, Andrew Bryan opened up the frame with a single through the left side and Mitchell Rogers followed with a walk. After a groundout double play that moved Bryan to third base, Bourque drove him in with an infield single to close the gap to 2-1.
The fourth inning was a kind one for the Cowboys. After Selman struck out to start the inning, Provenzano walked while Stracner and Jake Cochran hit back-to-back singles, Cochran’s scoring Provenzano, as the Cowboys tied the game 2-2.
Stracner then stole third and Dustin Duhon walked to load the bases. Following a Bryan pop out to third base for the second out of the inning, McNeese went up 4-2 following a Rogers RBI walk and a Carson Maxwell RBI hit-by-pitch.
UCA got a run back in the top of the fifth to close the gap to 4-3 but McNeese put things away with a four-run eighth inning which was highlighted by Duhon’s grand slam.
Cowboys’ starter Cayne Ueckert (2-2) picked up the win after throwing five innings and giving up three runs, two of those earned, on three hits and struck out seven. Zach Rider notched his first career save after tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just two hits.
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