If the opening weekend was any indicator, McNeese State is in for a wild — and winning — ride in Southland Conference play this season.
Cowboys coach Terry Burrows, a baseball lifer, called McNeese’s series win over Lamar the strangest he has been part of. The Cowboys (14-9, 2-1 SLC) trailed 6-0 in the first inning Friday and 9-0 in the first inning Sunday before rallying to win both games. In between, there was an 18-inning marathon when neither team could score until Lamar scratched out the 1-0 win.
“That was the craziest weekend of baseball I’ve been around, ever,” Burrows said. “To be able to come back like we did Friday and Sunday says a lot about these guys. They know they’re never out of a game now. Nine runs down? It’s almost impossible to win. And they found a way.”
McNeese will look to continue the momentum in this weekend’s home series with Northwestern State, which begins tonight because of Easter Sunday.
The Demons (9-18, 0-3) are on the opposite end of the mojo spectrum, coming into the series on a 10-game losing streak. However, those losses have come to the likes of Oklahoma, Texas Christian, LSU and Southeastern Louisiana.
“They’ve got a new coach in Lane Burroughs, and he’s going to do a good job making them play fundamental baseball,” Burrows said. “I’ve never seen a Northwestern team that doesn’t play hard. We expect a battle.”
McNeese is 7-3 in its last 10 games, thanks in part to a revitalized offense. Four Cowboys — Connor Lloyd, Jackson Gooch, Chayse Marion and Taylor Drake — are currently hitting above .300 after only one player was able to do so last year.
“I think getting a few wins definitely helped the confidence,” Marion said. “We started the year on a three-game losing streak, but after sweeping a few series everything from pitching to hitting got helped in our confidence.”
The only mystery for McNeese is who will solidify the role of No. 3 starter behind Bryce Kingsley and Blake Ware.
Michael Clemens is still the front-runner to eventually fill that role, but Burrows said he’s still behind the curve after missing the early part of the season with a broken hand. That means Saturday’s starter will depend on who is used out of the bullpen the first two games of the series.
“We can start Clemens, Trey McGee, Sam Peterson, Tyler Parke,” Burrows said. “The problem is when you take one of those guys out of the bullpen, then you’re losing an arm out of the bullpen. We’ll use whoever we can to win (the first two games) and then figure it out.”