LAKE CHARLES – Joe Provenzano was one of several heroes in McNeese’s Friday night Southland Conference game against Northwestern State as his walk-off double with no outs in the bottom of the 13th inning scored Shane Selman to give the Cowboys a 2-1 win in the series opener.
Provenzano’s game-winning hit capped off a night where the two Anderson brothers – Grant and Aidan – combined to throw the full 13 innings, striking out a school-record 18 batters while allowing just four hits.
“That was a warrior effort tonight,” said head coach Justin Hill of the Andersons and whose Cowboys won for the fifth straight time and improved to 13-6 in league play, 18-20 overall. “You can’t describe it any other way.
“I thought Grant was great from the first pitch. I’m probably kicking myself a little for sending him out into the ninth. He was good there but just lost a little bit of his command. He’s in great shape. I wasn’t worried about him getting hurt.”
Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 13th, Selman reached when his slow roller to the pitcher’s mound was misplayed by pitcher David Hodo. A wild pitch allowed Selman to take second base and Provenzano popped a 1-1 pitch into the left field corner as Selman scored easily for the win.
“The first pitch was a bit outside,” said Provenzano, “but fortunately Shane was able to take second. Then I got an outside pitch and just took it that way.”
Grant Anderson started the game and took a three-hit shutout, along with a 1-0 lead, into the ninth inning where he hit the lead-off batter before giving way to his brother, Aidan.
Aidan walked the first batter he faced then a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. A sacrifice fly by NSU’s Lenni Kunert tied the game at 1-1 before Aidan struck out the next batter for the final out.
“They kept us in the ball game,” said Provenzano who finished the night with two of the Cowboys’ nine hits. “They put up zeroes for the first eight innings and then four more after the ninth.
McNeese scored in the bottom of the first inning on a Demon error to make it a 1-0 lead. The Cowboys had the bases loaded with one out but were unable to add to the lead.
The Cowboys got another opportunity in the sixth inning when Selman and Provenzano led off with back-to-back singles then advance into scoring position following a Dustin Duhon sacrifice bunt.
But once again, the runners would stay stranded in scoring position as the Cowboys came up empty.
After NSU tied the game in the ninth, the Cowboys looked to be on their way to winning it in the bottom of the inning when Mitchell Rogers led off with a double then a sacrifice bunt attempt by Jake Cochran allowed him to reach base when a putout attempt was made on Rogers at third base as he slid in safely.
With the winning run on third base and no outs, Demon reliever Danny Hlad struck out two straight batters then got the third to fly out to right field as the Demons avoided a ninth-inning walk-off by the Cowboys.
Aidan Anderson was cruising following the ninth inning walk. He retired 13 straight following that free pass, including a stretch where he struck out six straight batters.
He picked up the win to improve to 4-4 on the season, 4-0 when coming out of the bullpen, after he threw five innings and allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out a career-high 10 batters.
NSU got an equally impressive outing from its starter Ridge Heisler who gave up just one run and six hits in eight innings of work with a walk and four strike outs.
Hodo, the Demons’ third pitcher on the night, took the loss after giving up the game-winning hit and run to drop his record to 0-3.
NSU dropped to 20-17 on the year and 8-8 in league play after the loss.
The series will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.