HAMMOND - McNeese baseball returns to the diamond on Thursday when it opens up a four-game Southland Conference series at Southeastern Louisiana.
First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. The series will continue with a double-header on Friday beginning at 2 with a 7-inning game followed by a 9-inning contest. Saturday’s finale will carry a 1 p.m. first pitch. All four games will stream live on ESPN+ courtesy of SLU production. League rules prohibit any athletic events to be played on Easter Sunday.
McNeese (12-11, 6-5 SLC) will be looking to get back on track after dropping four games to Stephen F. Austin last weekend. The Cowboys lost all four games by no more than three runs in each game, and in fact helped SFA jump-start some runs by ill-timed walks, hit-by-pitches, or other miscues.
“I think it’s easy to look in the box score and see that typically the team that walks fewer people will give up less runs. That’s just kind of how it is,” said head coach Justin Hill. “Things like that happen. We just have to do better to overcome them.”
The Lions (16-8, 9-3) are sitting atop the league standings following their four-game sweep at Lamar over the weekend. SLU is a perfect 11-0 at home and opened up the conference season with a four-game sweep over preseason favorite Sam Houston.
“They’re towards the top of the conference in pitching and in hitting, and that’s a great combination,” said Hill about the Lions. “They’re going to be a challenge this weekend, just like they always are for us. They’ve done a great job in pitching which makes it a lot easier on the offensive side of things.”
SLU and McNeese will enter the weekend ranked 2-3 in the league in team batting – the Lions with a .290 average while McNeese is hitting .283 as a team. SLU is second in the league in team ERA with a 3.42 mark while McNeese is seventh with a 4.95 average.
Individually, Cowboys designated hitter Tré Obrégon leads the lead with a .403 batting average but he’ll miss the weekend due to an injury that was aggravated against SFA over the weekend. Right fielder Clayton Rasbeary is third in the league in hitting with a .376 average and is tied with teammate Nate Fisbeck for the most doubles in the league with 10.
Right-handed pitcher Bryson Hudgens returned to the mound on Sunday against SFA to throw an inning. The sophomore has been out of action since the opening weekend due to an injury and is expected to get the start in Thursday’s opener and will be on a pitch count.
Lefty Will Dion (2-3, 4.09) is expected to start in Friday’s first game while LHP Jonathan Ellison (1-0, 1.83) will get the nod in the nightcap. Saturday’s bump will belong to righty Christian Vega (0-2, 5.33) who had one of his better outings of the season last Sunday when he allowed just one run and three hits in seven innings of work.
The Lions are expected to counter on the mound with RHP Will Kinzeler (3-1, 2.16) on Thursday, LHP Trey Shaffer (1-1, 5.68) and RHP Will Warren (4-1, 2.41) on Friday, and RHP Brennan Stuprich (1-1, 3.60) on Saturday.