LAKE CHARLES – Bryan King was magnificent in his seven innings of work on the mound for McNeese on Friday night against Southeastern Louisiana after he allowed just two unearned runs and struck out five batters, and pinch-hitter Carson Maxwell’s RBI double in the seventh inning put the Cowboys on top for good in a 5-2 win over the Lions in the second game of the Southland Conference series.
Jacob Stracner put a stamp on the win with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, his second homer in as many nights.
The win lifted the Cowboys to 7-4 in conference play, 10-16 overall and climbed back to within one game of the Lions (20-10, 8-3) for third place in the league standings.
The series will conclude on Saturday at 3 as the Cowboys will be looking to win their third conference series of the season. An Easter Egg hunt will follow the game for kids as ages 12 and under will be admitted free.
King (2-1) posted his longest outing in three conference starts on the season.
“I felt good out there,” said King about his play. “The defense did a really good job of making some plays behind me. I was also able to work out of a couple jams throughout the game.”
Aidan Anderson threw the eighth and ninth innings to pick up his first save of the season. He gave up two hits and struck out three batters.
“Bryan King, I think, is the story of the game,” said head coach Justin Hill. “Other teams are going to score runs. But he kept them down.
“Aidan was really good tonight. We got into a little traffic at the end. He hasn’t been in a situation a lot so that was good for him.”
The Lions had runners on second and third in the top of the ninth with the tying run at the plate with one out, but Anderson threw a strikeout and got the final batter to ground out to first base to end the game.
Offensively, the Cowboys put nine hits up on the board, three more than SLU’s six. The batters 5-9 in the order combined for six of those nine hits including Stracner’s two knocks while Dustin Duhon added a 2-for-4 game.
McNeese took a 1-0 lead in the fourth of a RBI infield single by Stracner, the first of his three runs batted in for the game.
SLU went up 2-1 in the fifth when it plated two runs off a throwing error by McNeese catcher Dustin Duhon whose throw to Mitchell at first base on a swinging strike three dropped ball, got past Mitchell and the runners at first and third both scored. King kept his composure and got the next batter out to keep the Lions at two runs.
“That was a tough situation on the strikeout,” said Hill of the play. “That was a very difficult play. Dustin executes that thing nine times out of 10. It’s just one of those things.”
Duhon made up for the mistake in the sixth inning when his two-out single through the right side scored Shane Selman to tie the game at 2-2.
In the seventh, Mitchell Rogers slapped a one out single to left field and was followed by Maxwell, who entered to pinch-hit for Hunter Racca. Maxwell took the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-center field to score Rogers from first base and put McNeese up 3-2.
The next inning, Stracner made it a 5-2 game with his two-run home run, his fourth of the season, to give the Cowboys some cushion.
The Lions scattered their six hits in the game but left eight runners stranded on base, seven of those in scoring position.
Evan Hileman (0-3), the first pitcher out of the pen for the Lions on the night, took the loss after he delivered Maxwell’s seventh-inning double.
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