SUGAR LAND, TX– Small ball was the name of the game in No. 5 McNeese’s 2-1 win over NO. 4 Incarnate Word on Wednesday night at Constellation Field as all three runs were scored by virtue of a sac fly.
McNeese starter Aidan Anderson earned the win after tossing all nine frames, allowing just one run on five hits. The senior from Beaumont, Texas, finished with a season-high 132 pitches and faced the minimum over his final 6.1 innings.
“The game was tight, you either get guys out or you go down,” said McNeese pitcher Aidan Anderson. “I threw my best stuff and tried to locate rather than do too much. I made the good pitches in a row instead of trying to throw one great pitch.”
“It was a heroic effort by Aidan Anderson, I’m proud of what he did,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said. “We found a way to score without getting a hit. That was just a heroic effort by him (Anderson) we played great defense all night and I’m so proud of the guys.”
The Cardinals struck first in the home-half of the second as Eddy Gonzalez led off the inning with a single, advanced to third on a Lee Thomas double and scored on a Shea Gutierrez sac fly to right. McNeese answered with a sac fly of their own after Reid Bourque roped a fly ball to deep right, allowing Julian Gonzales to trot down the third-base line and make it 1-1.
After Anderson retired the side in order in the ensuing half inning, the first two batters of the top of the sixth reached and advanced on a sac bunt to put a pair in scoring position for Jake Dickerson, who drew a bases-loaded walk. On the next at-bat, Carson Maxwell registered the third sac fly of the ballgame to give the Cowboys the lead.
Anderson went on to retire seven straight until Taylor Smith got the best of Anderson in a 12-pitch at-bat with Smith, the 2019 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, drawing a walk with two outs. However, Reid Bourque avenged the free pass by holding down a tag as Smith slid through the bag at second on a stolen base attempt.
Despite having the winning run on his book, Cardinals’ reliever Luke Taggart did his part to keep UIW in the contest, striking out seven over his five innings of work, including striking out the side in the top of the eighth.
McNeese will face No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the night cap on Thursday, and UIW will take on regular-season champions and No. 1 seed Sam Houston State at Noon tomorrow.