LAKE CHARLES – McNeese had its chances against Southeastern Louisiana in the opening game of a three game Southland Conference series on Thursday night, but base running miscues and excessive walks hampered the Cowboys in a 5-4 loss.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 9-16 overall and 6-4 in conference play while SLU improved to 20-9 and 8-2.
Game two of the series will take place on Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.
McNeese trailed 4-2 going to the bottom of the sixth inning when it gave itself a chance to close the gap or even take the lead.
Jake Cochran and Shane Selman led off the inning with back-to-back singles, then each advanced a base on a wild pitch with one out.
That brought up Jacob Stracner, who had hit a solo home run earlier in the game, whose hard hit grounder to the pitcher’s mound that was fielded cleanly by Lions’ hurler Corey Gaconi.
Breaking home from third base was Jake Cochran who reached on a lead-off single, and was caught in a rundown from home to third base. Also moving on the play was Shane Selman who was at second base and heading to third. Cochran was tagged out trying to slide back into third and immediately after, Selman was sliding into third from second base and was also tagged out on the play and the Cowboys, who were in a prime position to either cut into the 4-2 deficit or take the lead, came up empty.
“That was a base running mistake,” said head coach Justin Hill. “It’s something we work on. We know what the mistake was but you don’t get a do-over in a game. That was a tough one tonight.”
After the Lions added a run in the top of the eighth to go up 5-2, McNeese battled back in the bottom of the inning when Stracner popped an RBI double down the left field line to score Selman to cut the lead to 5-3. Then after an SLU pitching change, Dustin Duhon knocked in Joe Provenzano on a grounder to shortstop to make it a 5-4 game.
But the Cowboys would go down in order in the ninth and fall one run short.
Starting pitcher Grant Anderson (2-3) took the loss after he allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and four strike outs in four innings of work. In all, four Cowboy pitchers combined to walk 10 Lion batters, three of those that would eventually score.
“Too many freebies,” said head coach Justin Hill. “Their offense really thrives on those things. Credit them, they took some tough pitches.”
Offensively, McNeese put eight hits up on the board with five of those going for extra bases.
“I thought we did a good job at the plate for six of the nine innings,” said Hill. “We were able to get a chance there at the end.”
Cochran, Selman and Stracner combined for six of the Cowboys’ eight hits with Stracner getting a home run and a double with two RBIs.
SLU starting pitcher Corey Gaconi (2-1) picked up the win after throwing 6.2 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. He also struck out nine batters and walked two.
Biddy came in and threw the final 1.2 innings of hitless and scoreless ball to notch his second save on the season.
The Lions were led at the plate by second baseman Cody Grosse who ended the game 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored.
SLU wasted little time in getting on the board with a run in the top of the first and had the bases loaded with two outs but McNeese was able to halt the Lions’ early rally.
McNeese responded in the bottom of the inning when Reid Bourque led off with an infield single down on the third base line and scored on Shane Selman’s one out triple to tie the game at 1-1. Gaconi followed by striking out Provenzano looking and got Stracner pop out in the infield to Selman at third.
SLU scored two in the third inning to go up 3-1 off a two-run double by third baseman Trey Harrington.
The Cowboys closed the gap to 3-2 with Stracner’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, his third on the season, but the Lions got the run back in the top of the fifth off a Grosse double to make it 4-2.
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