Cowboys fall short in season opener to No. 25 Alabama, 10-6

Cowboys fall short in season opener to No. 25 Alabama, 10-6
McNeese's Will Dion delivers a pitch vs. Alabama. (Source: Rodger Champion)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – McNeese Baseball returned to the diamond on Friday after nearly a year away and rising from being knocked down following two major hurricanes, giving the 25th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide all it could handle before falling 10-6.

McNeese, 10-7 a year ago before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, out-hit the Crimson Tide (16-1 in 2020) by a 12-9 margin, including getting several base knocks off of starting pitcher and preseason first-team All-American Connor Prielipp, who was touching the high 90s on his fastball throughout his five-inning of work.

“He was as advertised,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill about Prielipp. “It was a tough matchup for our hitters but we had our chances and you’ve got to take advantage of those or the good ones will make you pay.”

Four Cowboy players each collected two hits – Tré Obregon (2-for-5), Jake Dickerson (2-for-5), Brett Whelton (2-for-4) and Julian Gonzales (2-for-4).

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Will Dion (0-1) took the loss after allowing five runs, all earned, on seven hits in five innings of work.

“I thought Will threw the ball well. We didn’t play well behind him and made mistakes that you can’t make and expect to win. He did give us five innings and that’s encouraging considering we didn’t play very clean.”

Clayton Rasbeary got the first hit of the season with one out in the top of the first, a double down into left field. He moved to third on an Obregon single through the left side to put Cowboy runners on the corners with just one out but Prielipp got Dickerson to strike out and Whelton to ground out to second base to get out of the jam.

Alabama got things going right away in the bottom of the first with a double from Peyton Wilson. A one-out single by Sam Praytor put Tide runners on the corners then a Drew Williamson single scored Wilson to give ‘Bama a 1-0 lead. Dion was then called for a balk to score Prayton to make it 2-0 before Heller struck out to end the inning.

Alabama added two more runs in the third inning on a two-run home run to make it 4-0 then added another run in the fifth to go up 5-0.

McNeese got its swing going again in the top of the sixth against Crimson Tide reliever Tyler Ras.

Four straight Cowboys reached base to start the inning. Rasbeary got things going when he reached after getting hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Obregon followed with a single to center field and a Dickerson double to the left-center part of the field scored Rasbeary to put McNeese on the board. On the same play, Obregon attempted to stretch his advancement to third base and was thrown out for the first out of the inning.

Whelton added an RBI double down the left field line to close the gap to 5-2 then scored on a two-out Gonzales RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. The inning would end when Gonzales would get picked off when attempting to steal second.

Alabama added five runs in the seventh inning to go up 10-3 but the Cowboys came back with three runs in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Reid Bourque, an Alabama throwing error on that same play, and a score off a wild pitch to make it a 10-6 game.

“Our kids kept fighting and I’m certainly proud of that,” said Hill. “We made a lot of mistakes today that made it harder to win, they’re correctable, and I expect things to clean up as we continue to play.”

Game two of the series will carry a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday with redshirt freshman Ty Abraham scheduled to take the mound for the Cowboys. The game will broadcast live on the SEC Network + streaming channel.

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