Cougars jump on struggling Cowboys early

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

In a McNeese State baseball season with

an increasing number of moments vying for rock-bottom status, Tuesday

night’s first

inning against Houston may have taken the cake. The Cougars scored

eight runs before the Cowboys could even record a single

out.

“It was a disaster,” said McNeese coach Terry Burrows. “You don’t get an out? It’s unexplainable.”

Houston used the considerable first-inning cushion created against starter Jacob Williams to cruise to an 11-5 win over the

woebegone Cowboys, who have lost five straight and are 3-17 in their last 20 games.

Williams (1-3) allowed six runs on five hits without retiring a Cougar.

The question now is not if McNeese can win another series, but another game, period. The Cowboys have six Southland games

remaining against two teams tied for second place in the league, Oral Roberts and Southeastern Louisiana.

“This sounds super cliché, but starting

this weekend, every game we play right now is our conference

tournament,” Burrows

said. “That’s honestly the way it is. As of today we’re in it, but

at the same time we’ve got a team right behind us. We need

to understand we have a chance to win these series. It’s just a

matter of getting after it and staying focused.”

McNeese has overcome a bigger deficit this year than it faced on Tuesday night, beating Lamar 14-13 after spotting the Cardinals

a 9-0 first-inning lead on March 24. The fight that marked that comeback effort seems to be in short supply as the Cowboys

continue to stumble down the stretch.

“That was when we had a little

confidence,” Burrows said. “Right now we’re playing without any

confidence. That’s almost impossible

to overcome right now. These kids are scuffling. Everybody is.

That’s the last thing we needed.”

The biggest spark of the night for the Cowboys came with an umpire’s warning.

Reliever Tyler Parke threw a ball behind the head of Houston batter Landon Appling in the third, prompting home plate umpire

Ryan Broussard to issue warnings to both benches.

Parke’s pitch certainly didn’t appear

to be a coincidence — Appling had stolen a base with the Cougars up 8-0

in the top of

the first. Parke went on to strike out Appling in the at-bat to

end the inning, then glared at him as both teams made their

way to their dugouts.

“There’s an old saying, you don’t wake a sleeping dog,” Burrows said. “Running in that situation, that’s something I don’t

think I’d ever do. I don’t care if it’s the first, second or whatever. I’ve never seen anything good come out of that when

stuff like that goes on. But that’s how they want to play the game? Hey, it all comes back full circle eventually.”

McNeese outplayed Houston from that point forward, outscoring the Cougars 5-3 in the final six innings.

“They did wake up, and they should have,” Burrows said. “It’s a shame it takes that to make it happen.”

Jackson Gooch had the best night for the Cowboys offense, going 2-for-3 with a three-run homer to left in the fourth.

Jake Lemoine (7-3) earned the win, pitching into the ninth before Ryan Vruggink came in for the final three outs.