LAKE CHARLES – Tyler Wesley is solidifying his status as one of the top Sunday starting pitchers in the Southland Conference for McNeese.
That was strengthened this Sunday when the senior kept the league’s top-hitting team out of sync for most of his 6.2 innings pitched, and guided the Cowboys to a 6-2 win over Abilene Christian while capturing the weekend series two games to one.
“He was the story of the game,” said head coach Justin Hill about Wesley who has allowed just 10 earned runs in 24 innings on conference Sunday starts. “He was great today. He was like that against Central Arkansas and also against Stephen F. Austin.”
McNeese improved to 9-6 in conference action (13-19 overall) with the win while ACU fell to 15-15 and 3-12 in the league.
Wesley, who improved to 3-2 on the season, had a slightly rocky start after giving up a one-out, first inning single then letting the runner advance to second on a throwing error on a pick off attempt, but after that, he settled down to retire the next 16 batters that included sitting down the side from the second through fifth innings.
The streak was snapped by a two out bunt single from ACU’s Derek Scott in the sixth inning. But Wesley got the next batter to ground out to halt any potential threat.
Scoreless after five and a half innings, McNeese strung some hits together in the bottom of the sixth to snap the tie.
Shane Selman led the inning off with a single up the middle and Jacob Stracner was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Joe Provenzano moved them up a bag on a sacrifice bunt – McNeese was 3-for-3 in sac bunt attempts on the day.
After a pitching change by the Wildcats, Dustin Duhon scored Selman on his sac fly to right field to put McNeese on the board with a 1-0 lead. Andrew Bryan made it a 2-0 game when his single through the left side scored Stracner, then a double that followed by Jake Cochran set up the third run of the inning when Bryan scored from third base on a wild pitch.
ACU finally found the bats in the seventh inning, all with two outs. It all started when Robert Salazar was plucked by a pitch on a 3-2 count. Seth Watts followed with a double down the left field line and Matt Munoz followed that with a two-run single to cut the McNeese lead to 3-2.
Hill decided to go to the bullpen and bring in Zach Rider who struck out the next batter looking to end the Wildcat rally.
McNeese got those two runs back in the bottom of the seventh on a Provenzano sacrifice fly and a double steal of second and home. On that play, Stracner on first and Reid Bourque on third and with two outs, Stracner took off for second base with the pitcher not yet in his windup. As Stracner was caught in a rundown, Bourque broke for home and slid around the tag on the play at the plate to score and make it a 5-2 lead.
Bryan gave the Cowboys some insurance with a solo home run in the eighth inning for his second homer in the last four games. He finished the game with a team-high two hits in four at-bats, two runs scored and two RBI.
Rider closed the door on the Wildcats in the eighth and ninth to pick up his second save of the season.
Wesley struck out eight in the game, the second-most batters fanned in his career.
ACU’s Jonathan Nicholson (2-4) took the loss after he gave up two runs on three hits in 5.1 innings pitched.
McNeese out-hit ACU by a 7-5 mark.
The Cowboys will return to action on Tuesday when they visit ULL at 6 p.m. then will play at New Orleans for their next conference series.