McNeese State University baseball head coach Justin Hill. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 1:08 PMLast season, Beaumont was the home of bizarro baseball between McNeese State and Lamar.
The Cowboys won a series when no game was quite like any of the rest.
McNeese rallied from a six-run first-inning deficit for a 9-6 Friday win. On Saturday, the teams played the equivalent of two scoreless games before the Cardinals eked out a 1-0 win in the 18th inning. That was mere prelude to the absurdity that ensued Sunday, when McNeese rallied from a 9-0 first-inning deficit for a 14-13 win.
It’s unlikely anything similar will unfold at Vincent-Beck Stadium this weekend, but first-year Cowboys coach Justin Hill will take the same results as McNeese (14-9, 4-2 Southland) attempts to open conference play with its third consecutive series win.
“It’s still early in the conference season,” Hill said. “You never know how things are going to work out. But everything we want is right in front of us.”
The Cardinals (14-12, 1-5) come into the series reeling having lost four straight, including last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Nicholls State.
Hill knows Lamar can’t afford a to drop a second straight home series. He also doesn’t care.
“Hopefully we’re not matching their intensity,” Hill said. “Hopefully we’re setting the tone. Yeah, they’re gonna have some energy and some urgency to them. But we’ve got our own agenda.”
The Cowboys are doing the rotation shuffle for the third consecutive week. Kaleb Fontenot (3-0, 0.79 ERA) has earned the Friday night start after beating Oral Roberts in the rubber game of last week’s series, which was also his first career start.
Hill said either Michael Desabrais (0-0, 3.77) or Bryce Kingsley (1-2, 7.04) will start on Sunday. Kingsley has worked his way back into the mix with a pair of quality midweek starts, including three innings of one-hit ball in a no-decision at Sam Houston State on Wednesday night.
“I think it was just a mental switch for him,” Hill said. “It was something he had to fight through. He knew he had to fight through it. If you play long enough, it’s something you’re gonna have to do. We’re glad he’s throwing well and I know he is too.”
Michael Clemens remains the constant in the rotation and will again get the ball on Saturday.
“We could throw him Game 1 if we wanted to, but he’s so valuable there,” Hill said. “If you’re down a game, you feel you can win that game. If you’re up a game, you have a great opportunity to win the series. We’ve been in both situations and he’s pitched well enough for us to win.”