Gooch takes one for the team

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

After hitting the baseball all over Cowboy Diamond Saturday, it was the one that hit him which made Jackson Gooch a hero.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Northwestern State closer Steve Spann hit Gooch on a two-strike pitch to

score the winning run in an 11-10 McNeese victory.

Gooch, a senior outfielder who was 4-for-5, was happy to take the plunking.

“I saw it coming right at me,” said Gooch, who admitted he wasn’t going to move out of the way. “I didn’t care how much it hurt

I wasn’t moving.”

Catcher Sam Peterson strolled home from third with the winning run and ended a rally that saw the Cowboys score six times in their final two at-bats.

“This team doesn’t quit,” said Cowboys head coach Justin Hill. “We have seen that all year.”

The wild ninth inning saw the Cowboys (20-13, 10-5 Southland Conference) score three times despite hitting one ball out of

the infield.

Two walks, a bunt single by Peterson, his third hit of the day when nobody covered first for the Demons, led to Gooch’s heroics.

“I would have much rather gotten a hit there,” said Gooch, whose average rose to .358. “But a win is a win and we needed this.”

The comeback left Span with a 7-4 record.

“The fact we were able to stay in it was big,” said Hill, whose team found a way to keep things close despite some shaky play.

“A win like that will cover up a lot of the mistakes we made today, but we will take it. We knew if we stayed close we would

have a chance. We did just enough to win.”

Steven O’Bryant (2-3), the last of six McNeese hurlers, worked a scoreless ninth to get the win.

Down 10-5 entering the eighth, the Cowboys got back into the game thanks to junior Andrew Guillotte’s two-run single and then

his legs. After reaching first, Guillotte promptly stole second and then scored all the way from there on Chayse Marion’s

infield single.

Guillotte never slowed as Marion beat the throw to first and slid well ahead of the tag.

“Sometimes you just got to make things happen,” Hill said. “Plays like that got us going.”

Guillotte finished 2-for-6 as McNeese pounded out 12 hits in all, five coming in the last three innings.

The Cowboys rally ruined Chase Daughdrill’s big day. The Northwestern State slugger hit a pair of two-run homers and doubled

in another run to lead the Demons’ 13-hit attack.

He finished with five RBIs and scored three runs, but the Demons (20-14, 10-5) were unable to overcome five errors.

Daughdrill hit is first two homers of the season in back-to-back innings. Both of them scored Caleb Dugas, the second coming

during a three-run fifth and hit off the top of the scoreboard in left field.

It gave the Demons a 7-2 lead and ended the day for McNeese starter Michael Clemens, who allowed six runs, three earned, on

six hits in 413 innings of work despite taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning.

Daughdrill began his power play with a blast off the lower part of the scoreboard. It was the first hit for Northwestern State.

Two more runs in the inning followed on a trio of hits for a 4-0 lead.

However, McNeese began to cut into that lead right away, scoring twice in the fourth and two more times in the fifth with

Peterson’s first home run of the year the highlight.

“We just tried to chip away and chip away, get some runs and stay close, then try to win it at the end,” Gooch said.

Or as Hill joked afterward, “Just like we drew it up.”

The Cowboys will hope to draw up another win when they play the deciding game of the series at 1 p.m. today.

Neither team has lost an SLC series.

McNeese will send sophomore right-hander Bryce Kingsley (3-2) while the Demons will counter with lefty Austin Tanner (0-1).