LAKE CHARLES – Abilene Christian scored six of its nine runs in the final three innings as McNeese was never able to get into an offensive rhythm in a 9-3 loss to the Wildcats on a blustery cold Saturday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 12-19 overall and 8-6 in Southland Conference play while ACU improved to 15-14 and 3-11 in the league.
McNeese will go for the series win on Sunday with a 1 o’clock start. It’s also Kids Day as kids 12 and under will be admitted free. One dollar hot dogs will also be sold.
The Cowboys led 1-0 through four innings as starting pitcher Bryan King seemed to be rolling along. But in the fifth, the Wildcats got things going with a lead-off double by shortstop Robert Salazar. Third baseman Seth Watts reached on a bunt single when the throw to first wasn’t in time, then a throwing error by McNeese second baseman Joe Provenzano allowed Salazar to score to tie the game.
Things kept spiraling downward for the Cowboys in the frame as the Wildcats scored two unearned runs to go up 3-1.
ACU took advantage of another Provenzano error when center fielder Matt Munoz hit one up the middle for a base hit, but Provenzano, who made a nice play on the grounder, threw it wildly to first base to allow Munoz to get to second.
A sacrifice bunt advanced Munoz to third then three straight base hits, one a double, scored two more runs to make it a 5-1 game.
The Cowboys answered in the bottom of the inning when Carson Maxwell cleared the bases with a two-out triple to right field after ACU’s Dalon Farkas couldn’t complete a remarkable diving attempt on the liner. Maxwell’s triple scored Dustin Duhon, who led off the inning with a double, and Andrew Bryan to make it a 5-3 game.
ACU added two runs in each of the eighth and ninth innings to put the game away.
King (2-2) took the loss after he allowed five runs, three of those earned, on nine hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Peyton McLemore threw the final 2.2 innings and gave up four runs on six hits.
Wildcat starter Garrett Hutson went seven innings of three-run, seven-hit ball to get the win and improve to 3-0 on the season.
ACU, the Southland Conference’s top hitting team, put 15 hits up on the board as six Wildcat batters collected two or more hits in the game. Munoz finished the day 4 for 5 with two RBI and three runs scored.
McNeese had seven hits spread among seven different batters. Maxwell led the way with two RBI.
Tyler Wesley is expected to get the start on the mound in Sunday’s finale.
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