Sugar Land, TX (KPLC) - In the bottom eighth inning with the bases loaded, two outs, and an 0-2 count, junior Jake Dickerson delivered a clutch two-run double over the third baseman’s head to secure a 5-3 McNeese victory over Incarnate Word Friday night and catapult the Cowboys into the Southland Conference Championship game on Saturday night at 6 for the first time since 2003.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” said head coach Justin Hill. “They never stopped fighting, never gave up, and they weren’t going to allow themselves to lose this game; just really proud.
“Now we play tomorrow night and I’d be lying if I said it’s not a good thing that whoever we play tomorrow will be playing one extra game. Whoever it is we will be ready for a fight.”
McNeese, who will be playing in the title game for the first time in 16 years, will take on the winner of the UCA-Southeastern Louisiana 1 p.m. game.
It's also the first time since the 2003 tournament that the Cowboys have won their first three tournament games. McNeese went on to win that tournament and go on to play in the NCAA regionals, which is also the last appearance the Cowboys have made it in the NCAA tourney.
In a Friday night rematch from a first-round contest between McNeese and UIW, the Cowboys struck first on a Nate Fisbeck solo home run in the first inning, his first of two homers on the night.
In the fourth inning, Incarnate Word scored its first runs of the game and took its first lead after scoring two runs, the first on an RBI double down the third base line and another on a throwing error to home trying to cut down the runner from scoring.
Fisbeck tied things at 2-2 in the sixth inning with his second solo home run of the game but the Cardinals battled back to retake a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom half of the inning and with two outs, Fisbeck and Clayton Rasbeary drew back-to-back walks then Shane Selman was hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases for Dickerson who delivered his two-run double to put the Cowboys up 4-3. McNeese added an insurance run on an RBI single by Carson Maxwell to make it a 5-3 game.
Cayne Ueckert, who relieved Will Dion for the last out in the eighth, took the mound again in the ninth to get the last three outs and earn his third victory of the season.
1st | In the bottom half of the inning, Nate Fisbeck got the Cowboys out to an early 1-0 lead after crushing a ball over the left field wall for a solo home run.
4th | In the top half of the inning, the Cardinals took the lead with an RBI double down the third base line and a throwing error to home plate on a single to right field, making it 2-1 after the fourth.
6th | After Peyton McLemore made the Cardinals strand the bases loaded with a punch out in the top of the inning, Nate Fisbeck tied the game with his second solo home run of the game, making it 2-2 after the sixth.
8th | In the top of the inning, the Cardinals had the bases loaded and only scored one run on a sacrifice fly to right center field, taking a 3-2 lead. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Fisbeck and Rasbeary each drew a walk, Zach Rider pinch-ran for Rasbeary, and Selman worked a hit-by-pitch to loaded the bases. Then with a 0-2 count Jake Dickerson hit a flare over the third baseman’s head for a two-run double to reclaim the lead. Now with runners on the corners, Carson Maxwell hit a single past the shortstop to plate Rider for the Cowboys final run and bring the score to 5-3.
The Cowboys were led offensively by Nate Fisbeck and Jake Dickerson. Fisbeck finished 2-for-3 from the plate, with two solo home runs, two RBIs, a drawn walk, and three runs scored.
Dickerson finished 1-for-4 from the plate including the game winning two-run double.
Reid Bourque also had good game, finishing 2-for-3 from the plate including a single and a double, and stole two bases.
Junior right-handed pitcher Brad Kincaid got the start for the Cowboys in Friday night's game. Kincaid finished with 3.2 IP, gave up only two runs, one being earned, on five hits, struck out three, and the no decision
Peyton McLemore relieved Kincaid with two outs in the fourth inning. McLemore finished the game with 3.1 innings pitched, allowed one hit, no runs, and struck out three batters.
Will Dion relieved McLemore to start the eighth inning. Dion finished with 0.2 innings, allowed one hit, one run, and
Cayne Ueckert relieved Dion to get the last out of the eighth inning. Ueckert finished the final 1.1 innings of the game, allowed only one hit, no runs, and earned his third win of the season.
The Cowboys will be back in action tomorrow in Sugar Land, Texas for the Southland Conference Championship Game. Their opponent will be the winner of the championship round of the other side of the bracket Central Arkansas vs Southeastern La. game. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.