Cowboys drop series to Colonels

Published 11:03 am Monday, March 27, 2023

A day after literally letting one slip away, the Cowboys fell to Nicholls and lost the first conference series of the season in the process.

The Colonels used home runs by Xane Washington and Gerardo Villarreal to topple McNeese State 8-5 at Joe Miller Ballpark Sunday.

The loss was the first time since the opening week that McNeese dropped back-to-back games as the Pokes fell to 16-8, 1-2 in the Southland Conference. Nicholls improved to 15-11, 2-1.

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McNeese did manage to send the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth after loading the bases in the eighth, but the Pokes could only score once in those frames.

“We got close but close doesn’t get it done,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “Give them credit, they won all the big moments the last two days. They did the little things.”

Unlike Saturday when McNeese had numerous chances to win, the Cowboys were fighting uphill most of Sunday after taking a 1-0 lead in the first on Josh Leslie’s single to center.

Leslie’s hit drove in Brad Burckel from second, giving him a team-high 25 runs batted in on the season. However, that was the Cowboys’ only lead.

The Colonels scored seven runs over the next five innings to take a 7-1 lead before Andrew Gonzales hit his second homer of the season for McNeese in the bottom of the sixth.

Nicholls finished with 17 hits while McNeese managed just seven a day after collecting 18.

“They came out and hit the ball,” said Hill. “They never had a big inning, but they scored in six of the nine.”

Austin Cain, Hunter LeBlanc and Villarreal all had three hits for Nicholls. MaCrae Kendrick had two hits and drove in three as well.

Gonzales, who missed Saturday’s game with an injured hand, led the Pokes with three hits in five at-bats.

Josh Mancuso (2-1) got the win in relief while Nico Saltaformaggio earned his second save, both in this series. McNeese starter Zach Voss fell to 1-3 with the loss.

“It is a cruel game where one slip and you go from winning a series and going for a possible sweep to losing one instead,” Hill said, referring to Saturday’s loss.

In that game McNeese appeared to have won in the bottom of the 10th when Cooper Hext singled and Braden Duhon raced from second. But Duhon fell rounding third and never scored.

The Pokes will look to rebound Tuesday night at home when they host Southern at 6 p.m. Then they hit the road for a Southland series at Houston Christian starting Friday.