LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a game of inches late in Saturday’s Southland Conference baseball game between McNeese and Lamar, with the Cardinals winning the inch battle that helped them prevail with a 2-1, 11-inning win over the Cowboys.
The Cardinals (7-11, 1-4 SLC) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning on a bang-bang play that was close to being a double play by the Cowboys’ defense. However JC Correa managed to beat out the throw from McNeese second baseman Nate Fisbeck at first base after Fisbeck turned the first part of the would-be double play.
That allowed Cole Girouard to score from third to put the Cardinals up 2-1.
In the bottom of the inning, the Cowboys loaded the bases with one out after Julian Gonzales reached on an error, Carson Maxwell singled, and Jake Dickerson walked. That brought up Jake Cochran who drilled a liner near the first base line that would’ve easily scored two to win the game, but Lamar first baseman Anthony Quirion made a diving stab to catch the ball, then doubled off Dickerson at first to get the double play and end the game.
“There were a lot of tight plays,” said head coach Justin Hill. “It could’ve gone either way. We had the double play that we thought we turned. There were just some bang-bang plays. Those are sometimes the difference in a one-run game.
“I was proud of the guys. I think we gave ourselves a chance to win the ballgame. That’s just baseball sometimes.”
McNeese tied the game in the bottom of the ninth when Julian Gonzales singled, moved to third on a Clayton Rasbeary double, then scored on an infield ground out by Carson Maxwell to make it 1-1.
Before that inning, McNeese managed just two hits through the first eight innings.
Thankfully, Cowboy starter Aidan Anderson, making his first start of the season, controlled the Lamar bats for the first eight innings, holding the Cardinals to just three hits, no runs, no walks and striking out six.
He retired the final 17 batters faced before being relieved to start the ninth inning and the game scoreless.
“I thougth Aidan did a good job,” said Hill. “He looked like himself out there. It was tough to pull him out in the ninth but that was the first he’s gone that long and the first conference weekend, I wasn’t willing to stretch that out.
“He had to match (Lamar’s Jason) Blanchard. He was special today. He was throwing four pitches for strikes, in and out. He was tough for our hitters.”
Lamar got an equally impressive performance from Blanchard who lasted 8 1/3 innings, gave up one run on four hits, walked one and struck out seven. He didn’t allow a McNeese base runner until two outs in the fourth inning.
Lamar put the first run on the board in the top of the ninth when lead-off batter Girouard hit a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall off of Cowboy reliever Bryan King to make it 1-0. The Cardinals got a follow up single from Avery George, then put runners on first and third with two outs. King then got Quirion looking for out number three to end the threat.
The Cowboys threatened in the fourth inning when Shane Selman reached on a two-out walk then a single by Clayton Rasbeary put runners on first and second. Selman was the first Cowboy batter to reach base in the game and Rasbeary posted the team’s first hit. Maxwell then struck out to end the threat.
King (2-1) took the loss out of the pen after he allowed two runs on five hits, no walks and five strike outs. Lamar’s Ryan Erickson (1-1) got the win in a relief role while Austin Smith picked up his first save of the season.
Offensively, Rasbeary had two of the Cowboys’ five hits on the day while Girouard led Lamar with three base knocks, including the ninth inning solo homer.
McNeese will try to clinch the series on Sunday in the rubber match that begins at 1 p.m. Cayne Ueckert is expected to take the mound for the Cowboys.
• 3B Carson Maxwell made a diving grab on a liner with one out and a runner on first base to rob a base-hit.
• SS Reid Bourque turned a 6-unassisted-3 double play to end the top of the second inning after fielding the ball up the middle.
• CF Shane Selman made a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch on a deep hit ball to center field in the top of the third inning.