SAN MARCOS, Texas — McNeese State’s season came to an end Thursday morning with a 7-1 loss to top-seeded Sam Houston State in an elimination game at the Southland Conference baseball tournament.
Starting pitcher Tyler McDonald kept the Cowboys in the game but McNeese was unable to apply any pressure on Sam Houston starter Justin Jackson.
The Bearkats broke through the battle of attrition with a five-run outburst in the top of the sixth, highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Luke Plucheck and Kevin Miller.
Tyler threw well enough, but then they hit back-to-back home runs and had that one big inning,” said McNeese coach Terry Burrows. “That put a damper on things for us, coupled with not being able to get things going offensively.”
Jackson (8-4) has foiled the Cowboys before.
On April 21, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning for a 2-0 win. The Cowboys got to him for five hits this time, but Jackson finished with another complete game.
“That’s the second time he’s done that against us,” Burrows said. “You have to tip your hat to them.”
McNeese’s lone run came in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Henry scored on an Andrew Guillotte sacrifice fly. The Cowboys (24-30) scored three runs in two tournament games.
The Bearkats (37-19) added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth.
Three of the seven runs allowed by McDonald (4-4) in 7 2/3 innings were earned. Trey Brown pitched the final 1 1/3 innings.
Burrows credited both for blooming into weekend starters this season.
“It was neat to see those guys develop into guys you can count on over the course of time,” Burrows said. “Tyler McDonald is a kid that came in on a walk-on tryout. He’s just a great person and kid academically. To watch him go about his business like he did all year — there’s nothing flashy about it. He just stays the course.
“Trey Brown developed into someone we expected when we first signed him.”
Despite a season full of offensive challenges — McNeese ranked 277th out of 291 nationally in runs scored — Burrows praised the character of a team picked to finish ninth in the Southland preseason polls.
“I don’t like to use the word overachieved. We just played up to the very best we could,” Burrows said. “We got the best out of them we could. An obvious problem was getting the bats going consistently. They’re already talking about doing things over the summer and getting better for next year.
“They’ve learned from some mistakes that we’ve made. At times we’ve had five or six freshmen or sophomores out there. The future for these kids is great.”