Sam Houston State delivers message

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same principle clearly applies to climbing atop the Southland Conference.

It was only an early season midweek

game at Cowboy Diamond Tuesday night, and it didn’t count in the league

standings. But

Sam Houston State showed why it’s considered the cream of the

Southland crop with an 18-6 blowout of McNeese State that gave

the Cowboys (3-1) their first loss of the season.

“I told the guys earlier it really

doesn’t matter what it happens tonight because it’s just one game,” said

McNeese coach

Justin Hill. “But the bottom line is, they’re the class of our

league. They’ve been in regionals five of the last seven years.

That’s one of the goals of where we want to be. We’re working on

that.”

A nuclear-powered eight-run sixth inning torpedoed the Cowboys, who went into the frame with a 4-2 lead. The Bearkats (5-0)

batted around before recording an out, and that was via sacrifice bunt.

Thirteen Bearkats came to the plate, accounting for eight hits — three of them doubles — that kept the painful carousel moving

against four McNeese pitchers.

In retrospect, Hill said he realized he probably got all he could out of starter Lucas Quary (1-1), who allowed two runs in

five innings before failing to get a man out in the sixth. Collin Kober finally stopped the fire after Steven O’Bryant and

Tyler Erickson were unable to end the inning.

“I feel like I was a lot responsible for that,” Hill said. “I felt like that matchup was good with Lucas, but my gut was feeling

he was a little tired to execute pitches the way he could and I didn’t pull the trigger.”

Big innings are not unusual behavior for Sam Houston, especially in the sixth. The Bearkats have scored no fewer than five

runs in the sixth inning of their last three games.

“It might be coincidental right now,” said Sam Houston coach David Pierce. “They are making some adjustments. Fortunately

we’re scoring some runs, and it happens to be in the sixth inning. I can’t explain that.”

The Bearkats did the rest of their damage in garbage time, batting around again for six runs in the top of the ninth to provide

a form of water torture to the hearty few who hadn’t already hit the exits.

The good news for McNeese?

Tuesday’s game has no bearing on the conference standings, giving the Cowboys until the end-of-May conference tournament to

figure out how play at a comparable level as the Bearkats.

“I don’t think the game was as ugly as it seemed, because it was right there in the sixth,” Hill said. “I think our guys realize

that. It’s a matter of being able to execute when it happens and doing the little things better.”

For the first half of the game, McNeese looked up to the task.

The Cowboys scratched out four runs any way they could in the first three innings.

Connor Lloyd scored the first run on a Matt Gallier sacrifice fly in the second, and then Clay Payne drove Reed Gordy home

with the fourth straight hit to start his college career.

McNeese added two more in the third when James Cantu doubled home Andrew Guillotte, then scored after consecutive ground outs

to the right side of the infield.

Every Bearkats starter finished with at least one RBI.

Shortstop Corey Toups led the way with five of them thanks to a two-run double in the sixth and a three-run homer in the ninth.

It was the first home run of the season at Cowboy Diamond.