LAKE CHARLES – A sixth-inning RBI triple by Tré Obregon followed by a run-scoring single by Nate Collins gave McNeese a 3-2 lead then Cameron Foster entered the game with two runners on and one out in the seventh inning, and after walking his first batter faced to load the bases, Foster struck out two straight Privateers batters. He then held off a 9th-inning rally by UNO as the Cowboys held on for an 8-6 win in the series opener.
After going up 3-2, McNeese (20-21, 13-11 SLC) added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh before chasing UNO starter Haden Erbe who left the game after giving up a lead-off walk to Payton Harden then back-to-back singles from Clayton Rasbeary and Nate Fisbeck, the latter scoring Harden to make it a 4-2 game. Following a fielder’s choice by Obregon put runners at first and third with one out, Peyton Johnson laid down a safety squeeze sacrifice bunt that scored Rasbeary and increasing the lead to 5-2. Another run crossed the plate when Reid Bourque drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Pokes up 6-2.
Jordan Yeatts got an RBI pinch-hit single with one out in the eighth inning to score Harden and give the Cowboys some insurance with a 7-2 lead then Johnson followed with a slow dribbler to the right side as he beat out the throw for an infield single, scoring Rasbeary in the process to put McNeese up 8-2.
Hunter Reeves (2-1) picked up the win in relief work while Foster earned his third save of the season and the second in as many appearances. Erbe (1-3) took the loss after giving up six runs on seven hits in six innings of work.
Four McNeese pitchers combined to allow just four hits. UNO sent four pitchers to the mound, giving up 11 hits while walking nine Cowboy batters.
Rasbeary (2 for 5), Obregon (2 for 4) and Gonzales (2 for 2) led the way with two hits each while Johnson knocked in two runs to lead the way.
Trailing 2-1 in the sixth after the Privateers scored two runs in the fifth inning, Fisbeck led off the frame with a walk then scored when Obregon hit a triple in right field that got to the wall after UNO right fielder Pearce Howard’s attempt to short hop the hit.
UNO (23-18, 18-11) took the lead with two runs in the fifth inning, scoring those after McNeese starter Bryson Hudgens gave up a lead-off single and walk. Isaac Duplechain relieved Hudgens and gave up a sacrifice fly to Darren Willis as the Privateers tied the game at 1-1. The second run scored on a wild pitch by Duplechain to give UNO a 2-1 lead.
McNeese looked to get things going early when in the bottom of the first inning, Fisbeck drew a two-out walk and Obregon followed with a bloop double down the left-field line to put runners at second and third but UNO starting pitcher Erbe struck out Peyton Johnson to keep the runners stranded in scoring position.
The Cowboys scored in the bottom of the second inning off a squeeze bunt play by Ben David to score Julian Gonzales, who singled earlier in the inning, giving McNeese a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Gonzales reached on a two-out bunt single but on the play, UNO first baseman Travis Gober collided with Gonzales as he reached for the throw from the catcher, injuring his elbow and having to leave the game. Play was halted 21 minutes while Gober was tended to by paramedics, and when play resumed, Gonzales stole second then took third on a wild pitch. But a strikeout to Bourque left Gonzales stranded at third and the lead remained 1-0 after four innings.
UNO made things interesting in the ninth with four runs to close the gap to 8-6 but Foster struck out KC Simonich to end the game.
• Head coach Justin Hill picked up his 220th win.
• Starting pitcher Bryson Hudgens retired 11 straight after giving up a game lead-off single until two outs in the fourth.
• McNeese scored seven of its eight runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.