HAMMOND – Will Dion was masterful in his start in the first game of a Southland Conference doubleheader against first-place Southeastern Louisiana on Friday as the Sulphur native toss a three-hit shutout to hurl McNeese to a 5-0 in the 7-inning game.
In the second game, the Cowboys rallied late to turn a 4-1 deficit into a one-run game but the Lions pulled away with two runs in the eighth inning to finish with a 6-3 win.
With the split, the Cowboys moved their record to 14-12 overall and 8-6 in league play while SLU is now 17-10 and 10-5.
McNeese will go for the series win on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
Dion evened his record at 3-3 on the season while tossing his second shutout and third complete game of the season.
Starting his second straight game one doubleheader, Dion allowed two of the three hits in the first two innings, a lead-off double in the bottom of the first and a second-inning lead-off single.
Following the second-inning single, Dion retired 16 of the next 17 batters with the lone escapee from being retired drawing a fourth-inning walk. He did not allow another hit until the bottom of the seventh.
Offensively, the Cowboys got three of their runs in the fifth inning off a three-run, two-out home run by Payton Harden. McNeese cushioned its lead with two runs in the sixth after scoring on a wild pitch and a sac fly.
In the nightcap, SLU scored two runs in the second inning off a two-run double by Eli Johnson as the Lions took advantage of a walk and a Cowboy error to go up 2-0.
McNeese got a run back in the fourth inning following back-to-back singles by Cooper Hext and Clayton Rasbeary to lead off the inning, then Hext scoring on an RBI fielder’s choice by Nate Fisbeck.
The Lions added a run in the bottom of the fourth and another in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead.
The Cowboys rallied with two runs in the seventh to pull to within 4-3, and had the bases loaded before the inning ended on a fly out to right field.
SLU added two runs in the eighth to close out the scoring.
Cowboy starter Jonathan Ellison (1-1) took the loss after he threw 5.2 innings and gave up four runs, two earned, on five hits, walked two and struck out four. Lions’ starter Will Warren ran his record to 5-1 after he threw six innings and gave up three runs, one earned, on five hits and struck out 10.