McNeese State's Cameron Toole reaches to tag out Houston Baptist's Zach Nehrir as he dives into home plate trying to score from second on a throw from center fielder Andrew Guillotte in the top of the second inning Saturday at Cowboy Diamond. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, April 07, 2014 11:55 AMRally caps were replaced by the rally broom Saturday at Cowboy Diamond.
For the third time in 24 hours, McNeese rallied from an early deficit to beat Houston Baptist in a Southland Conference series pushed up because of today’s expected rains.
After winning two on Friday, McNeese (19-11, 9-3 SLC) completed its first sweep of the season with a 4-1 victory.
“We talked about wanting to finish the weekend strong,” said first-year head coach Justin Hill. “Getting a sweep is big, but we also want to make sure we are playing the game right.”
Jackson Gooch and Cameron Toole each drove in a pair of runs as McNeese scored twice in the sixth and seventh innings. Both run-scoring hits came with two out.
“Big hits at the right time,” Hill said.
Bryce Kingsley (3-2) got the win but he had a lot of help from his friends.
The sophomore right-hander from Barbe High allowed 10 hits and walked one in his six innings of work. However, he allowed the one run thanks to his defense.
“Bryce kept us in the game,” Hill said. “We knew our offense was coming; he gave us a chance.”
Three great defensive plays over the first five innings saved at least three runs and kept the Huskies within reach.
“I got a lot of help,” said Kingsley. “This was a total team weekend of wins. The defense came up big. That made me work hard to keep us in the game and do what I could to keep them from scoring.”
Third baseman Reed Gordy’s diving stop of a hard grounder that was headed for the corner with a runner on second ended the fifth inning.
And then there was Andrew Guillotte.
Making his first start of the season in center field, Guillotte showed he had not forgotten his old stomping ground.
Guillotte, a junior who moved to second base after starting in center the last two years, gunned out runners at the plate in each of the first two innings.
“That made me look smart,” joked Hill. “Andrew made some great throws and that gives us an opportunity to see some other things we can do.”
On each of Guillotte’s throws Toole made swipe tags on the runner, barely getting a piece of them before they slid across the plate.
“It felt great to be back out there,” Guillotte said. “I missed it. To be able to help right away was great.”
The throws got Kingsley out of early trouble.
Of the first 11 HBU batters, only two who swung the bat made outs as six of them collected hits. Included in the outs were a bunt popped up and a batter’s interference call on an attempted steal of second.
“When the defense makes plays like that you really want to do your job,” Kingsley said.
HBU (14-14, 5-7) broke through in the third, scoring on Jordan McCoy’s single to right-center. Guillotte wasn’t able to make a throw on the looping liner as Josh Martinez scored from third.
Lucas Quary worked the last three innings on the mound for McNeese, allowing one hit while picking up his first save.
“We did a real good job this weekend making the big plays,” Hill said. “This was a total team effort — pitching, hitting, defense.”
For their work, the Cowboys earned a day off today.
McNeese will welcome second-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday.
“It should be a great atmosphere here,” Hill said.