LAKE CHARLES – McNeese second baseman Joe Provenzano made a giant step towards history on Friday night when his four-hit game helped McNeese defeat Prairie View, 12-7, in the first game of a three-game baseball series.
The 4-for-5 game raised his already team-high batting average to .339 on the season, more than 110 points higher than it was this time last month, as the Cowboys improved to 23-27 on the year.
“I changed up my approach and am just seeing the ball a lot better, said the senior who will receive his degree during Saturday morning graduation ceremonies before game two’s 3 p.m. start.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” he said regarding the school’s career hits record which stands at 247 and his held by Andrew Guillotte (2012-15). Provenzano’s game increased his career total to 241 and ranking him third all-time.
“It’s a great honor if I get it (the record),” he said. “It’s Guillotte’s record. He’s a great player and I was fortunate to have played a year with him. If it happens, great, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ve still had a great career.”
Grant Anderson, the usual Friday night starter for the Cowboys, got the rest on this night, or at least he was expected to, but was called into duty when starter Bryan King ran into some trouble with the Cowboys leading 6-2 in the fourth inning.
Prairie View (13-35) was able to knock King around and after three runs scored to pull the Panthers to within 6-5, and with the bases loaded, Anderson was called out of the bullpen for the first time since the middle of March. After he gave up a two-run single to the first batter he faced that put Prairie View up 7-6, Anderson did not allow another hit in his 5 1/3 innings of work as he picked up the win to improve to 4-5 on the season.
Trailing 7-6 after five innings, McNeese didn’t fret it.
In the sixth, Mitchell Rogers and Jacob Stracner hit solo home runs to put McNeese back on top for good at 8-7, and in the eighth inning, McNeese knocked around Panther reliever Jerson Hardit for four more runs on four hits to increase the lead to 12-7.
Provenzano had the big hit of the frame with a two-run double, the 44th of his career, as he ended the game with three runs batted in.
Stracner added a 3-for-4 game with three runs scored and an RBI and was just a triple shot of hitting for the cycle.
Lead off man Shane Selman finished the night 3-for-4 with three runs scored while Reid Bourque added a 2-for-4 game with two RBIs and three runs scored.
The Cowboys ended the night with 15 hits as nine of those came from the top four batters in the lineup.
Prairie View posted nine hits as Xavier Jefferson and Daniel Lingua each collected two.
Panther starting pitcher Derrick Curry took the loss and dropped his record to 1-6 on the season after he threw six innings and gave up eight runs on 10 hits.
• Prior to the game, the McNeese Cowgirl softball team threw out the first pitch as part of the celebration for the team winning the Southland Conference Tournament championship earlier in the day.
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