Making quick work of foes, fast pace to Cowboys’ taste

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

If you happen to stop by Joe Miller Ballpark tonight for the Cowboys’ series opener against Yale, don’t blink.

If you do, you will likely miss a lot.

McNeese State’s baseball team is not only playing well, but fast.

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The Cowboys enter tonight’s game 12-5 and winners of four straight and nine of their last 10. But it is the way they are playing that is eye-catching.

Cowboys games are fast this year.

Not one of their 11 home games, in which the Cowboys are 9-2, has gone over 3 hours. Friday nights are even quicker as the three at home are averaging 2:02.

Nothing has been as fast as Friday nights when ace Grant Rogers (4-0, 0.67 ERA) is on the hill. Rogers boasts two shutouts, including a complete-game shutout that lasted 1:45.

“I like to get it and throw it,” said Rogers, who will get his fifth start of the season tonight. “I trust my defense and want to get into a rhythm. I just like to work fast.”

Rogers, who will get the start tonight against Yale (4-6, all on the road), has not allowed a run over his last 191/3 innings of work. Twenty-six of his 27 innings have been scoreless. He’s in control of his pitches with 31 strikeouts against five walks.

Others have followed.

Derrick Cherry (2-0, 3.10), who will go Saturday in the series’ second game, has been watching. The Houston transfer is also working more quickly.

“I honestly try to do what (Rogers) does,” Cherry said. “I have learned from him and what pitching fast can do.”

Cherry and Ty Abraham combined to throw an eight-inning no-hitter last weekend against Prairie View A&M.

Some of this pace has been helped by new technology that has limited the amount of time it takes to communicate signals from pitcher to catcher.

But a lot of it is planned, said head coach Justin Hill.

“We try to get it and throw it,” Hill said. “That is by design.

“They also see the success Grant is having and follow his lead. It is working.”

It has helped fielders too. With the exception of one bad six-error game on Sunday, the Cowboys have played well behind their fast-throwing hurlers, committing 16 errors for a .974 fielding percentage with nine double plays, all of which ranks in the middle of the Southland Conference.

“It is great to play defense when guys are out there throwing fast and throwing strikes,” said second baseman Brad Burckel. “It keeps us ready to go.”

Tonight will be first meeting between the programs. Yale’s team ERA is 8.27. The Bulldogs have lost their last three games.