Cowboys seek consistency, focus on not leaving runners on base

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2023

After a disappointing weekend the Cowboys will look to bounce back against Southern University tonight at Joe Miller Ballpark.

McNeese State (16-8) has lost three of its last four games, including two during the first Southland Conference series of the season over the weekend to Nicholls State.

That included a heartbreaking 8-6, 12-inning loss on Saturday that had the Cowboys on the verge of victory a few times.

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“Sometimes the game is just really cruel,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said.

First pitch for today’s game is set for 6 p.m.

“We did not play our best,” Hill said. “We have some work to do. (Nicholls) exposed some of our weaknesses.”

In their first meeting in Baton Rouge, McNeese knocked off Southern (7-15) 10-3 behind Burrell Jones’ five innings of no-hit pitching.

“They are a different team now,” Hill said of the Jaguars. “I expect them to compete and play hard against us.”

The Cowboys are looking to find consistency in their attack.

“If we are leaving guys on base the good thing is it means we are getting guys on,” Hill said. “We are still trying to figure out who we are. We are still establishing roles.”

Josh Leslie has been the mainstay in the lineup, knocking in a league-high 35 runs. Leslie is hitting .330 with Brad Burckel following at .302.

Leslie has reached base in 16 consecutive games. Tré Obregon has reached base in 21 straight, including holding a nine-game hitting streak.

Chase Keeton entered the lineup over the weekend and went 5-for-13 with a home run and three runs batted in.

“He gave us a jolt of energy,” Hill said of Keeton. “We will see if that is sustainable.”

McNeese is struggling through two key injuries. Catcher Andruw Gonzales and infielder Braley Hollins both missed time over the weekend.

Gonzales returned Sunday to homer but his status, along with Hollins, is unknown for tonight. Hollins (.378), a freshman, likely won’t play until at least the weekend at Houston Christian, Hill said.

This will likely be a bullpen game for the Cowboys after using a lot of pitchers over the weekend.