Extra-inning walk-off sends No. 1 McNeese past No. 2 Southeastern to open SLC Championship Series
LAKE CHARLES, La. – McNeese’s Peyton Johnson made the most of his first at-bat in the 2022 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament as his pinch-hit sac fly in the 12th inning lifted the top-seeded Cowboys to a 6-5 win over Southeastern on Thursday night at Joe Miller Ballpark. McNeese takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Braden Duhon drew a one-out walk in the final frame and advanced to third on Payton Harden’s double to right-center field. Johnson entered the ballgame and, on a 2-0 count, sent a fly ball just deep enough to center to allow Duhon to cross home plate and start the celebrations.
Cameron Foster (4-2) earned the win after tossing 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out eight and allowing just one hit. In two postseason appearances, he has sat down 18 batters on strikes in 9.2 innings of work. Despite striking out four over a career-long 3.2 innings, Gage Trahan (4-4) was credited with the loss.
Held hitless through the first two frames, McNeese broke open for three base hits in the third, starting with a leadoff single for Reid Bourque and a Braden Duhon base knock up the middle to send Bourque home.
After Southeastern starter Adam Guth walked the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth, the Cowboys cashed in on another mishap as a 1-1 pitch caught Kade Morris’ shin to bring in a run.
The Lions mirrored that scoring situation in the top of the fifth as Rogers plunked Rhett Rosevear after walking the bases loaded, followed by a bases-clearing double off the bat of Preston Faulkner to make it a 4-2 Southeastern lead.
McNeese found itself in another bases-loaded jam in the sixth, but reliever Tyler Stone got Rhett Rosevear to chase a 2-2 pitch for his second strikeout in the inning. After a walk created the fourth bases-loaded situation in five-half innings, the Cowboys chipped away at the deficit with a run-scoring on a double-play ball from Morris.
At risk of becoming Stone’s fifth-straight strikeout victim, Tyler Finke lifted a 2-2 pitch just over the wall in center to reclaim a two-run advantage for the Lions. Stone went on to finish his night with all six outs recorded coming via the punchout, giving him 14 strikeouts on 23 batters faced in the Southland Baseball Tournament.
The two-run lead would not last long as McNeese struck back in the seventh with an RBI single from Andruw Gonzalez, and Brad Burckel delivered a game-tying double in the eighth to help force extras.
The Cowboys and Lions face off in game two at 6 p.m. CT Friday at Joe Miller Ballpark.
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