McNeese’s 3-4-5 hitters combined to collect six hits with two of those doubles and one home run while scoring four runs of their own and Cayne Ueckert closed the door in the final 1.1 innings as the Cowboys downed Stephen F. Austin, 7-5, in the first game of a three-game Southland Conference baseball series.
The win was the fourth straight for McNeese as it improved to 6-11 overall and moved to 3-1 in league play. SFA fell to 5-12 and 0-1 in its first conference game of the season.
Saturday’s game, which was originally scheduled for 2 p.m., has been moved up to a 1 o’clock first pitch.
McNeese jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three runs in the second inning after the first four batters reached base.
Jacob Stracner, who ended the day 2-for-5 with a run scored, led off the inning with a double to left field. Dustin Duhon followed with a home run over the left field wall to make it a 2-0 game. It was Duhon’s second homer of the season and second straight in conference games.
Andrew Bryan, who has been swinging the hot bat lately, followed with a single up the middle and Mitchell Rogers walked to put runners at first and second. After the first out of the inning, Carson Maxwell singled to center field to load the bases. Reid Bourque followed that with a single through the left side to score Bryan and make it a 3-0 game.
The lead increased to 4-0 after a two-out, Lachlan Mayo RBI single to score Duhon who reached on a one-out walk earlier in the inning.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Grant Anderson allowed just two hits and no runs through the first four innings but ran into some trouble in the fifth when the Lumberjacks cut the gap to 4-2 and had runners at second and third when Anderson got a strike out to end the threat.
Anderson (2-1) picked up the win in his first start of the season after he threw five innings and allowed two runs on four hits with five strike outs.
Peyton McLemore kept SFA off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh innings while McNeese added another run in the top of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Shane Selman and Joe Provenzano, with Provenzano’s driving in Selman to put the Cowboys up 5-2.
The Cowboys scored a couple of runs in the eighth inning on two SFA errors to make it 7-2 but in the bottom of the eighth, the Lumberjacks scored three runs on four hits and two walks to close the margin to 7-5.
Ueckert entered with two outs in the eighth and got the final out to halt the rally and after he gave up a lead off walk in the bottom of the ninth, got the next batter to hit into a double play and the final out on a liner to Selman in left field.
Ueckert recorded his first Division I save after facing the final five batters to secure the win.
Duhon ended the game 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored along with his home run and a walk. Bryan went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
McNeese’s offense put up 11 hits in the game, the most since knocking 14 against Wichita State in the third game of the season.
Provenzano’s double gives him 197 career hits, just three shy of the 200-hit milestone.
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