McNeese first baseman Mitchell Rogers was instructed by head coach Justin Hill, prior to him stepping into the batter’s box, not to try to hit a home run with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Cowboys trailing 2-1.,
The bat didn’t listen as Rogers connected on a first-pitch slider that sent the ball over the left field wall to give McNeese a 3-2 lead and eventually a one-run win over Abilene Christian in the first game of a Southland Conference baseball series at Joe Miller Ballpark on Friday afternoon.
“Honestly, I was just trying to keep the ball on the ground to second base, said Rogers of an action that would’ve scored Julian Gonzales from third base. “But I got a good swing on it and it went over.”
Designated hitter Andrew Bryan led off the inning with a double to right-center field. Gonzales entered to pinch run and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Cochran. That brought up Rogers who finished the game with two of the Cowboys’ seven hits, capping it with his game-winning homer, his third long-baller of the season.
Meanwhile, the Anderson brothers took control on the mound – Grant throwing seven innings in getting the win to improve to 3-3 on the season and Aidan tossing two scoreless innings to notch his second save on the year.
“I thought Grant was really good today,” said Hill. “He survived that first inning and did well the rest of the way.”
Grant struck out six while giving up one unearned run and lowering his season ERA to 3.22 on the season.
ACU scored a run in the first inning but McNeese answered in the second when Jacob Stracner led off the inning by reaching after getting hit by a pitch then later scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-1.
The Cowboys appeared to be on their way to opening up the game in the second with runners on second and third with no outs. But miscommunication base running by Joe Provenzano at third turned into an out after a ball hit down the third base line by Bryan was thought to be foul by Provenzano and he was caught off the bag for the first out. Then Cochran hit a shallow fly ball to right field as Bryan was doubled off first base after running to second on the play.
“One-hundred percent that kept us from putting up more runs,” said Hill. “We were in position to score even without getting a hit.”
The Wildcats went up 2-1 in the seventh before Rogers’ put McNeese up in the bottom of the inning.
ACU threatened in both the eighth and ninth innings as well, but Aidan Anderson was able to pitch out of both jams to secure the win.
The Anderson brothers combined to allow six hits and one earned run to the Wildcats.
Caleb Kyle and Coby Claborn each had two hits for ACU.
Provenzano added a 2-for-4 game for the Cowboys that included a fourth-inning triple.
Wildcats’ starting pitcher Brock Barter (2-3) suffered the loss after he allowed all three runs and seven hits in 6.1 innings of work.
The series will continue at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.