Grant Rogers dominates as McNeese wins SLC Tournament opener

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - McNeese baseball was in action Tuesday night for the first game of the Southland Conference Tournament against Texas A&M - Corpus Christi with the winner advancing to play regular season champion Nicholls on Wednesday, while the loser’s season would come to an end.

The good news for McNeese is they had their ace, and the back-to-back Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year Grant Rogers on the mound, and Tuesday was one of his most impressive performances of the season. Rogers pitched a complete game shutout blanking the Islanders while giving up just seven hits in nine innings of work with five strikeouts, and no walks in 107 total pitches.

The Cowboys were also getting it done at the plate, Tre’ Obregon III put the Pokes on the board in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run to right field that scored Brad Burckel with him after Burckel reached on a bunt single.

It stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth when Josh Leslie found the gap in left-center field, and he brought Brad Burckel all the way around from first base to extend McNeese’s lead to 3-0. Then just three batters later Braley Hollins brought Leslie around from second with a shot to the corner in left field, extending McNeese’s lead to 4-0, and that’s how it would end.

The 4-0 win marked the 300th win of head coach Justin Hill’s career.

“Man it sure would’ve been easier if we would’ve done it in a non-conference game, but man the story of the day was Grant Rogers and what he did, Tre’ (Obregon III) got us going offensively so we could kind of breath a little bit, but then Grant was really really good, and in addition to that, the defense was fantastic. We just, we were never able to stretch it out, but we just had enough pressure, and again, Grant just did what Grant does, so, glad he’s on our team,” said Hill on his 300th win.

Following the game, Rogers, as he often does, took no credit for the win, and instead gave it all to his teammates as he said: “I couldn’t do it without my team, without my defense, they made some great plays behind me, and the guys in the dugout, I owe them everything.”

On his two-run home run that got the Pokes on the board, and McNeese’s confidence when Grant Rogers is on the mound, here is what Tre’ Obregon III had to say: “It was huge for our team to get the lead, honestly, I wouldn’t have been in that situation had it not been for Brad (Burckel) laying that bunt down right there, that probably gets unnoticed, and that probably gets overlooked, but that got our momentum going in the dugout. So honestly without him, without my teammates, that probably wouldn’t have happened. We feel really confident with Grant, and like any pitcher, if we can get them a lead, or get them some runs, then it’s going to look better and we’re going to feel a lot more comfortable in the dugout.”

With the win, McNeese advances to the double-elimination portion of the Southland Conference Tournament, where they will take on regular season champion Nicholls on Wednesday at 6:00.

“Conference champ man, conference champ. That’s it,” said coach Hill about Nicholls and their matchup on Wednesday. “We talked about it, it’ll be (Bryson) Hudgens or (Ty) Abraham, it’ll be one of the two. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do, even to get in the winner’s bracket we had to go the extra game so, either one of those guys will go, but they’re all going to throw,” said Hill on who Wednesday’s starter will be.

For the full interviews with coach Hill, Grant Rogers, and Tre’ Obregon III, click here.