Top-seeded Cowboys power past No. 8 UIW to advance to the winner’s bracket

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 9:54 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. – Top-seeded McNeese continued its unbeaten run in the league’s postseason, claiming its ninth-straight Southland Conference Tournament victory by a 12-6 margin over No. 8 UIW on Thursday evening at Joe Miller Ballpark.

The McNeese (31-21) offense revolved around Southland Player of the Year Payton Harden, who finished 4-for-5 with three infield singles, four runs and a trio of stolen bases. His presence on the base paths routinely applied pressure to the Cardinals, who committed three errors are surrendered seven stolen bases.

Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year Grant Rogers (7-4) pounded the strike zone (67 strike percentage) for six innings, allowing just two earned runs and striking out three batters. Michael Garza dropped to 5-5 after allowing five runs on seven hits in five innings of work.

The Cowboys jumped on top thanks to the speed of Harden, who reached on his first infield single, stole second, advanced to third on a drop-third strike and scored on a wild pitch.

Alec Carr responded by flexing speed of his own, beating out a groundball to allow Jimmy De Leon to cross home plate for the tying run. The Cardinals doubled up in the inning with Carr scoring on a groundball through the left side.

Kade Hunter negated the two runs in the home half of the second, driving a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left-center to regain the Cowboy lead.

McNeese relied on its speed on the basepaths again in the fifth, plating a fifth run after an errant throw down the left-field line on a double steal attempt. In the same at bat, Brad Burckel ripped a triple down the right-field line to drive in Harden.

The Cowboys tacked on two more in the sixth after Kade Morris blasted a two-run home run over the wall in left, but the Cardinals would not go down without a fight after Jimmy DeLeon trimmed the lead to 9-5 with a bases-clearing double in the eighth.

However, the McNeese offense answered right back with three runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the game on ice.

UIW (19-30) will face Northwestern State in an elimination game at 1 p.m. CT Friday, followed by the winners’ bracket showdown between McNeese and Nicholls at 6 p.m.


McNeese Bracket - Joe Miller Ballpark (Lake Charles, La.)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

  • Game 1 (1 p.m.) - No. 4 Nicholls 7, No. 5 Northwestern State 6
  • Game 2 (6 p.m.) - No. 1 McNeese 12, No. 8 UIW 6

Friday, May 20, 2022

  • Game 3 (1 p.m.) - No. 5 Northwestern State vs. No. 8 UIW (ESPN+)
  • Game 4 (6 p.m.) - No. 4 Nicholls vs. No. 1 McNeese (ESPN+)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

  • Game 5 (1 p.m.) - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser (ESPN+)
  • Game 6 (6 p.m.) - Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner (ESPN+)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

  • Game 7* (1 p.m.) - Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (ESPN+)


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