McNeese State's baseball season came to an end after Central Arkansas beat the Cowboys 8-6 in an elimination game of the Southland Conference tournament Friday night in Conway, Ark. (Central Arkansas Athletics / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:04 AM
CONWAY, Ark. — McNeese State was able to extend its baseball season by a few hours with an afternoon win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but the end came at the hands of Central Arkansas.
The Southland Conference tournament host Bears beat the Cowboys 8-6 Friday night.
The Bears (32-21), who won their eighth consecutive game, will play Southeastern Louisiana (36-21) at 1 p.m. today in the championship game, a rematch of last year’s title game, won by the Bears.
The loss ended McNeese’s first year under coach Justin Hill. The Cowboys (30-28) reached the 30-win mark for the first time since 2010. McNeese also won games at the conference tournament for the first time in four years.
“I could not be more proud of what this team has accomplished this season,” Hill. said “We had eight great seniors that helped raise the bar for this program. I thought we played our best baseball this evening, which is what you always ask for. We were ready for a fight tonight and a lot of credit goes to UCA who played well. It was a good game and a great atmosphere all-around.”
McNeese got out to a first-inning lead following an RBI single up the middle by Chayse Marion, while Matt Gallier added a run on an infield single. UCA pitcher Chris Caudle hit second baseman Hans Ask with the bases loaded to force in a third run.
However, miscues in the top of the second — notably a pair of walks, hit batsman and a balk by starter Michael Clemens — allowed UCA to bounce back and take a 5-3 lead.
The Bears added to their lead with a two-run fourth inning with an RBI single coming from Langley while a double by Scott Zimmerle drove in another.
When it seemed that there was no hope left for the Cowboys, Ask provided some life with an infield single in the bottom of the fifth that scored Lloyd from third. During the play, a throwing error allowed Matt Williams to score and cut the Bears lead to a 7-5.
Central Arkansas tacked on another run in the next inning on a sacrifice fly by Zimmerle to put the Bears up 8-5.
Connor Lloyd’s two-out RBI single in the ninth kept the season alive for one more batter, but Connor McClain was able to get Williams to pop up for the final out.
Clemens (4-4) was tagged with the loss after giving up five runs on two hits and four walks in 12⁄3 innings.
Junior Andrew Guillotte recorded his 56th career steal.
Lucas Quary and Cory LaPeze pitched the last 32⁄3 innings and gave up no runs on two hits.
Jackson Gooch, McNeese’s second-leading hitter, did not play in the game after suffering an injury in the Cowboys’ 7-5 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (31-27) earlier in the day.
McNeese took the lead in that game when Guillotte broke open a 5-5 tie by driving Lloyd home with an eighth-inning triple.
Cole Prejean (6-4) earned the win, pitching four innings of scoreless relief for Steven O’Bryant, who made his first start of the year. Prejean retired 11 consecutive Islanders at one point, allowing two hits in the outing.