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McNeese State's Tyler Drake is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam against Harvard on Tuesday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese State's Tyler Drake is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam against Harvard on Tuesday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Cowboys silence Harvard’s bats, make noise with theirs

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 10:02 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Harvard alumnus Theodore Roosevelt, Class of 1880, famously said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

McNeese State proved better at following the adage than Teddy’s alma mater on Tuesday night at Cowboy Diamond, sweeping a doubleheader by scores of 10-0 and 11-0 in its final games before the start of Southland Conference play.

“Both of our starters threw very well,” said Cowboys coach Terry Burrows. “But the thing I’m even more pleased with is the way we swung the bat. Offensively we had good at-bats all day.”

Cowboys pitchers have combined to throw 22 consecutive scoreless innings, a streak that began in the third inning of Sunday’s 6-5 loss at Texas-Arlington.

The doubleheader sweep of the Crimson (1-12) gave McNeese (12-8) its first back-to-back shutouts since 2006.

The Cowboys have tossed five shutouts, two shy of the single-season school record of seven set in 1979.

“It makes us all feel good and lift our heads high,” said left-hander Jason Gibson. “We have the right mind-set with conference starting. We’re excited and hoping it works out for the best.”

Gibson (1-0) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the nightcap before pinch-hitter Michael Loughlin deposited a two-out single into left. Gibson allowed another hit and a walk before Burrows turned it over to Coby Miller, who got out of the jam.

“Yeah, I did (know it was a no-hitter),” Gibson said. “It was frustrating, but what can you do, right?”

Trey McGee (1-1) threw five scoreless innings in the opener before Ross Rowland and Tyler Erickson finished things off in the seven-inning game.

McNeese’s bats were active in both games, with shortstop Connor Lloyd going a combined 5-for-9 with three runs scored.

“We’ve got a little confidence and we’re feeling comfortable in the box,” Lloyd said. “We changed our approach up a little bit. We’re seeing the ball and sitting on pitches we should be looking for, and it’s working out for us right now.”

Taylor Drake, inserted into the starting lineup as designated hitter prior to last weekend’s series at UTA, continued his hot streak with a first-inning grand slam in Game 1 and finished a triple shy of the cycle.

“He’s swung the bat well,” Burrows said. “Especially in the first game. That’s good for us. That’s a place in the order (cleanup) we’ve been putting some guys in and out.”

Matt Williams also drove in four runs in the opener, while Tyler Klouser and Jackson Gooch each finished with three RBIs in the nightcap.

“It helps us feel more comfortable going up to the plate knowing we don’t have to score a run or two every inning, even though we’d like to,” Lloyd said. “We don’t feel as much pressure knowing that we have guys out there on the mound going out to shut them down.”

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