The new-look McNeese State offense looked a lot like the old-look Cowboys offense in Friday night’s season opener against Towson.
Which is to say, there wasn’t much to look at. Not for the first eight innings, anyway.
Things finally started to click in the ninth, but by then it was too late to rescue the Cowboys from a 12-5 Tigers victory at Cowboy Diamond.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their pitching provided little to feast the eyes upon — unless you were standing in Towson’s batter’s box.
The visitors from Baltimore pounded out 14 hits while the first two Cowboys pitchers combined to walk six batters. Starter Blake Ware allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings.
“The bottom line is pitching,” Cowboys coach Terry Burrows said. “Blake never gave us a chance. We were down 5-0 after the first two innings. Nobody who came in threw the fastball where we wanted to.”
Fortunately for McNeese, there are 53 games left to turn the season opener into a long-lost memory.
“I’m aggravated right now, but we have to make sure one loss doesn’t turn into two,” Burrows said.
Things got off to a good start for Towson and never really stopped. Brandon Gonnella led the game off with a triple and scored on a one-out sacrifice fly.
The Tigers got to Ware for four runs in the second, taking advantage of back-to-back walks to start the inning.
Ware settled down the rest of the way, facing the minimum in the fourth and fifth innings. However, an elevated pitch count forced Burrows to pull Ware just as he was getting things figured out.
“He’s an intense guy. He’s got to learn to control that intensity,” Burrows said. “Guys like that usually are better by the time they are tired.”
The Tigers were not very welcoming to relievers Michael Desabrais and Tyler Erickson, each of whom was touched up for three runs in 1⁄3 inning. Dominic Fratanuono had the biggest blow, a grand slam into the wind to make it 11-0.
McNeese managed two hits against Towson starter Mike Volpe in six innings.
The Cowboys put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Lucas Quary was the lone Cowboy with multiple hits, going 2-for-4. Two players who came off the bench, Phillip LeBleau and Hans Ask, had hits in their only at-bats.
“I don’t think our at-bats at first were anything like we can swing. They were kind of timid,” Burrows said. “You don’t want to say the pressure’s off (by the end). But we’ve just got to play better tomorrow.”