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Matt Gallier is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives)

Matt Gallier is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives)

Cowboys surprise Colonels

Last Modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 4:48 PM

Special to the American Press

CONWAY, Ark. — McNeese State pulled off the biggest surprise on the first day of the Southland Conference baseball tournament Wednesday when the seventh-seeded Cowboys beat No. 2 Nicholls State 4-2.

The opening-round victory was the first for McNeese (29-26) since the 2010 season. The Cowboys, who snapped a five-game tournament losing streak, went two-and-out last season.

“We were really excited about the way we came out and play today,” said first-year Cowboys head coach Justin Hill. “We were locked in the entire game and had good focus throughout the day. I felt good about how we were going to perform and now we get a little bit of a break and come back out fresh.”

McNeese will to play No. 6 Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. today. Sophomore right-hander Bryce Kingsley (5-4, 5.76 ERA) will take the mound for the Cowboys. Nicholls (32-25) will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in an elimination game.

“I am very excited about playing under the lights,” Hill said. “It is something special to play this sport under the lights and especially during the conference tournament. It makes for a great game in a great environment.”

Kaleb Fontenot (6-2) worked six scoreless inning. He struck out six, walked one and gave up five hits. Cory Lapeze pitched the last 123 innings for his third save.

“I was just persistent. I just kept going and kept fighting,” Fontenot said. “I was just making pitches and kept throwing pitches.”

“Kaleb did a great job for us in today’s game by keeping the innings small,” Hill said. “Along with the offensive performances by several of our guys, our pitching was also a big part in this win and Kaleb had a big part to do with that.”

Andrew Guillotte was 2-for-4 with two runs for the Cowboys. Jackson Gooch was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and home run. Seth Stevens had two hits and two RBIs for the Colonels.

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