Carson Maxwell’s game-tying double in the seventh inning was only the precursor to bigger things when two batters later and Maxwell standing on third, the third baseman straight up stole home with two outs to give McNeese a 3-2 lead and eventually the win over New Orleans in game one of a three-game Southland Conference baseball series.
Aidan Anderson, who seems to have rooted himself at the team’s closer, picked up his third save in his last five outings as he worked out of a one-out, two on jam in the eighth inning, then got the Privateers to go down in order in the ninth as McNeese improved to 10-6 in league play (14-20 overall).
The victory was McNeese’s 14 straight over UNO (17-18, 7-9 SLC) as it improved to a perfect 13-0 since the Privateers joined the Southland Conference.
The series was scheduled to continue at 6 on Saturday but because of the forecasted storms expected to roll through the area at that time, the series will conclude on Sunday with a doubleheader slated to start at 11 a.m.
Maxwell’s heroics weren’t the only stories of the game. Welles Cooley, batting in front of Maxwell, set things up with one out in the seventh inning and the Cowboys trailing 2-1 after he was hit-by-a-pitch on a two-strike pitch. Maxwell followed with a second pitch double into center field to score Cooley and knot the game up 2-2.
A grounder by Julian Gonzales advanced Maxwell to third base and with Shane Selman at the plate and a 0-1 count with two outs, Maxwell broke home for the swipe to put the Cowboys up 3-2.
“That was a gutsy play by Carson in a big moment,” said head coach Justin Hill. “Welles set that up by taking the HBP on a two-strike pitch and scored on Carson’s double to tie the game.”
UNO left an astounding 17 runners on base, including leaving them loaded four times on the night - the second, fifth, sixth and eighth innings.
In the second and with UNO leading 1-0, McNeese starter Grant Anderson faced a bases-loaded jam with two outs but got the next batter to foul out to end the threat.
Anderson breezed through the third inning but in the fifth, gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning, then with the bases loaded with one out, got an infield fly followed by a groundout to stall the Privateers.
McNeese tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning after Joe Provenzano led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and later scored on a Jake Cochran RBI grounder after he moved up to third on a Jacob Stracner sacrifice bunt.
UNO took back the lead in the sixth inning after three straight one-out walks were thrown by Anderson and a RBI grounder by third baseman Owen Magee scored a run after Magee beat out the second half of a double play to put the Privateers up 2-1.
Zach Rider relieved Anderson after that play and got a grounder to second base to end the inning.
That led into McNeese’s seventh inning when it took a 3-2 lead, but in the bottom of the eighth, Rider, who picked up the win to improve to 1-1 on the season, ran into some trouble after allowing two singles in the first three batter of the inning.
Hill went to Aidan Anderson who worked out of a bases-loaded jam and blocking another potential offensive inning for UNO.
UNO starting pitcher Bryan Warzek (2-2) took the loss after he allowed just five hits but three runs in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two. He also threw two wild pitches and hit two Cowboy batters.
“Warzek is a legit Friday night guy and we had to grind out that win,” said Hill. “Grant matched him the whole night and the bullpen came up clutch.”
Grant Anderson went 5.2 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Rider and Aidan Anderson combined to throw 3.1 scoreless innings and allowed three hits, none by Anderson.
Offensively, Maxwell had two of the Cowboys’ five hits with Selman, Reid Bourque and Mitchell Rogers each having one.
UNO put 10 hits up on the board as first baseman Collin Morrill finished 3-for-4 while catcher Beau Bratton and second baseman Devin Morrill each collected two hits.
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