Cowboys fall to Southeastern in Southland Conference Tournament Championship Series
LAKE CHARLES, La. – For the sixth time this postseason, No. 2 Southeastern emerged victorious in an elimination or clinching game, topping No. 1 McNeese, 11-7, to claim the 2022 Southland Conference Tournament title Saturday night at Joe Miller Ballpark. It marks the first time the Lions have hoisted the tournament hardware since 2014.
The middle of the order dominated for Southeastern with Preston Faulkner, Shea Thomas and Tyler Finke combining to hit 8-for-16 with seven runs, six RBI and three doubles.
Hunter O’Toole (4-4) struck out four without a walk over four innings of relief to pick up the win. Chance Stone fell to 3-3 on the year after failing giving up three runs on three hits in the opening frame. While he didn’t qualify for the win, Southeastern starter Will Kinzeler set the tone for the win with two scoreless innings, despite an injury to his landing leg that caused him to limp through his start.
Southeastern flipped the script from the first two games of the championship series, getting on the board first on back-to-back doubles from Shea Thomas and Tyler Finke to grab an early 3-0 lead. Stone went on to walk the next batter before Justin Hill made a call to the bullpen, resulting in a third-straight start in which Stone failed to get out of the first.
Christian Vega provided just what McNeese needed out of the bullpen, facing one-out situations with multiple runners on in each of the first three innings and striking out back-to-back hitters to close the book in each frame.
The Lions tacked on another run in the fourth as Rhett Rosevear completed his unconventional trip around the bases with a single, a steal of second, a throwing error that allowed him to get to third and a steal of home on a dropped-third strike to make it 4-0.
Snapping an 11-inning scoreless streak in the series, the Cowboys got on the board in the home half of the fourth, when Josh Leslie recorded an RBI single to chip away at the Southeastern lead.
However, Southeastern got the run back in the sixth on an RBI single from Finke through the right side that allowed Preston Faulkner to score from second. The next three Lion hitters reached via hit-by-pitch or walk to force another run to come home for a 6-1 advantage.
Thomas tallied two more RBI on a seventh-inning base knock to give him three runs driven in on the night and help Southeastern pad the lead at 8-2. The Lions added three more for good measure on back-to-back base hits from Christian Garcia and Tristan Welch.
With the win, the Lions secure the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will learn their regional fate during the selection show at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPN2.
2022 Southland Baseball All-Tournament Team
1B Preston Faulkner, Southeastern (MVP)
3B Shea Thomas, Southeastern
RHP Gage Trahan, Southeastern
2B Rhett Rosevear, Southeastern
SS Evan Keller, Southeastern
RHP Cameron Foster, McNeese
2B Brad Burckel, McNeese
RHP Tyler Stone, McNeese
CF Payton Harden, McNeese
LF Julian Gonzales, McNeese
C Miguel Useche, New Orleans
DH Tre Jones, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
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