McNeese State pitcher Blake Ware. (Pankaj Khadka / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 6:25 PM
Like Yogi Berra once said, it’s deja vu all over again.
For the second straight year, McNeese State heads into the final conference series of the season needing just one win to solidify a spot in the Southland baseball tournament.
Last year, it ended in disaster. The Cowboys were swept by Nicholls State and missed the postseason.
They are intent on avoiding that fate this weekend in the season finale at Southeastern Louisiana, which begins tonight at 6 p.m.
“I think we’re a little bit more positive (than last year),” said coach Terry Burrows. “We’re a little more confident in the way we’re playing. It’s not going to be easy going in there and winning. It would be nice to win one of first couple games and move on.”
McNeese (23-26, 16-14 SLC) needs a win or a Northwestern State loss to clinch a tournament bid. If they do well enough in the series, the Cowboys might not just get into the tournament field, but enter with a favorable seed. With a sweep of the Lions (34-18, 18-12), McNeese would be no worse than the No. 3 seed in next week’s tourney in San Marcos, Texas.
“I explained that to the guys, and they all knew exactly what’s going on,” Burrows said. “The bottom line is we have to try to take care of our business and not worry about who’s doing what. It’s a bad feeling scoreboard watching.”
McNeese has been taking care of business on the mound during its four-game win streak, allowing six runs during that span.
“That’s the way we’ve got to do it,” Burrows said. “We’re not tearing the cover off the ball by any means. But being able to pitch the way we have gives all the guys a little bit of confidence.”
Burrows said Michael Clemens (3-3, 3.47 ERA) will return to the starting rotation tonight, followed by Blake Ware (7-5, 2.58) and Tyler McDonald (4-3, 3.07).
Trey Brown (1-5, 4.75) will be the Cowboys’ primary long-relief option if necessary and Tyler Parke (2 saves, 5.31) will serve as the closer.
Burrows expects a dogfight with the Lions, who are in consideration for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament and do not want to take themselves off the bubble with a poor finish.
“They are going to go in and play hard and try for an at-large because there is no telling who comes out of the tournament as an auto bid,” Burrows said.