LAKE CHARLES – McNeese got its offense going in Sunday’s finale against Sam Houston State. Unfortunately it didn’t get rolling until the seventh inning and the Cowboys trailing 7-1.
McNeese smacked seven of its 10 hits in the final three innings and fell short 7-4 to the Bearkats and suffering its first home conference sweep since the 2009 season.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 20-24 overall and 14-10 in league play while the Bearkats improved to 31-13 and 18-3.
The game was cruising along at a lightning pace through six innings as Cowboys’ starting pitching Tyler Wesley was coasting, having given up just one run and four hits through the first six innings as the Cowboys trailed 1-0.
The Bearkats got a lead off double by Ben Haefner to start the seventh and that brought out McNeese pitcher Zach Rider from the bullpen who gave up a run scoring single to make it a 2-0 game.
“I thought Tyler was outstanding today,” said head coach Justin Hill. “He kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity.
“Credit them (SHSU). They made some terrific plays, especially (shortstop Andrew) Fregia who make an incredible play. He’ll probably end up being the player of the year in the conference.”
In the fourth inning and the Cowboys with the lead off runner on base, a hard hit ball up the middle was deflected by Bearkat pitcher Hayden Wesneski. Fregia was breaking towards the middle from shortstop, slid to bring the ball in, touched the bag with his hand then popped up and threw to first to get the double play and ending a potential Cowboy rally.
McNeese closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh when Jake Cochran hit a one out double then scored on a RBI single from Brett Whelton.
But in the eighth, the Bearkats unloaded for five runs to go up 7-1. A three run homer by Jack Rogers capped off the scoring in the inning.
McNeese didn’t sit idle.
In the eighth, Shane Selman and Joe Provenzano hit back-to-back one out singles then a two out walk by Dustin Duhon loaded the bases for Cochran, who delivered a two run single to cut the gap to 7-3.
The Cowboys loaded the bases in the ninth and got a RBI fielder’s choice by Selman to make it 7-4. Provenzano followed with a single to left field, his third hit of the game, to load the bases once again and bring the winning run to the plate in Carson Maxwell. But Maxwell grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the game.
Provenzano finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate, giving him 229 in his career and moving him into fourth on the McNeese all-time hits list.
Cochran and Selman each collected two hits as the Cowboys outhit the Bearkats by a 10-9 margin.
Wesneski picked up the win for SHSU to run his record to 4-2 after throwing 6.2 innings and giving up one run on five hits.
Wesley (3-3) suffered the loss despite his nice outing.
The Cowboys will be back in action on Tuesday when they visit Houston Baptist in a non-conference game to begin a five-game swing away from home. They’ll return to Joe Miller Ballpark May 11-13 against Prairie View.
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