Last Modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:57 PM
HAMMOND — A roller-coaster season was summed up by a roller-coaster game, and McNeese State is hoping the ride is still on its way up.
The Cowboys blew a five-run lead, but rallied with three runs in the final two innings to beat Southeastern Louisiana 8-6 on Thursday night at Alumni Field and clinch a spot in next week’s Southland Conference tournament.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys have battled towards the end of the season. I’m extremely proud,” said Cowboys coach Terry Burrows. “Getting this win tonight to get us in the tournament will make everybody sleep a little better. But it seems like the last two weeks we’ve been in the tournament every day and it’s just going to be a continuation on into it.”
Prior to Thursday night, McNeese (24-26, 17-14 SLC) was 0-22 when trailing after seven innings.
“Most of the season, it seems like when we were down we could never rebound and come back at all,” Burrows said. “Maybe it’s a cumulation of them going through it and hopefully learning from their mistakes. We really gritted it out.”
McNeese scored the go-ahead run when Skylar Barrentine made it home from second on an SLU throwing error after an Andrew Guillotte bunt. Barrentine pinch-ran for Taylor Drake, who led off the inning with a pinch-hit double.
Guillotte added an insurance run on Connor Lloyd’s sacrifice fly.
The Cowboys tied the score in the eighth when Renny Weber scored from third on an RBI groundout by Nick Eubanks.
There didn’t appear to be any need for dramatic exploits early on as McNeese jumped to a 5-0 lead after two innings. The Cowboys have been last in the league in hitting most of the year.
“Everybody in the dugout was going ‘What’s going on?” Burrows said.
The good vibes disappeared in the bottom of the fourth.
The Lions (34-19, 18-13) took advantage of three errors to put four runs on the board, then added one each in the fifth and sixth. Only two of the six runs scored on starter Michael Clemens were earned.
Tyler Parke (2-1) picked up the win, striking out two in 1 2/3 innings. The Lions brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Parke struck out Jacob Fisher on a full count to end the game.
Dylan Hills (8-4) was the loser, victimized by three unearned runs.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Burrows said. “We made some errors. We couldn’t get bunts down. It’s just good to see ball bounce our way. We’ll take every one.”