Reset time, Cowboys watch scoreboard as they regroup for SLC Tournament run

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

Thank goodness for reset buttons.

After a series loss to Miami of Ohio to close out the regular season, the Cowboys will hit that button in hopes of flipping the switch before they open Southland Conference Tournament play next week.

McNeese State (33-21) lost the rubber game of the three-game set with the Redhawks (21-35) 13-6 Friday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark. The Cowboys will wait for the results of the SLC games to find out if they play in Tuesday’s play-in or Wednesday to open the postseason.

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Either way McNeese will be set for 6 p.m. at The Jeaux.

“We have to be ready to go whenever we play,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “I think we can flip it and make a run.

“We still have to get better. If we don’t get better we will be done.”

McNeese wasn’t Good Friday, committing four errors that led to five unearned runs, three in the first inning. The Redhawks, who saw their coach fired after the series opener on Tuesday, had innings of six and five runs.

The series was not good for either team. The clubs combine to score 56 runs on 72 hits while committing 12 errors.

McNeese spotted the Redhawks six runs before getting to the plate.

Bryson Hudgens was hoping for a solid last start before the tournament but it didn’t begin well. In his fourth outing since returning from Tommy John surgery, Hudgens had a rough beginning.

Miami scored six times on five hits in the first inning. McNeese committed two errors, one by Hudgens. After that the right-hander settled down to allow one hit.

Hill said he’s hoping Hudgens can give the Cowboys a solid tournament start, boosting their chances at making a run. He finished throwing 61 pitches, 30 in the first inning, and working four innings.

“He was a bulldog today,” Hill said of Hudgens. “His mind-set and determination was to keep going. If we are able to get the ball to him next week, I’m confident in what he will do.”

McNeese tied the score with five runs in the third and another in the fifth. Josh Leslie drove in two runs with the first of his two doubles. He, Tré Obregon and Cooper Hext all finished with two hits.

But Miami scored five more times in the sixth to take control. Blake Buzzeo hit his second home run of the season, and last two days, to start the inning.

Four of those runs came off reliever J.T. Moeller (1-1), who took the loss. Connor Preisel (2-1) worked 31/3 shutout innings for the win.

McNeese has won two of the last three SLC Tournaments, losing last year’s championship series to Southeastern Louisiana in three games.

This year it is back to a double-elimination format after Tuesday’s play-in game. McNeese, which entered the day fifth in the conference, hopes to stay in that spot. The sixth and seventh seeds have to play in the single-elimination game.

“That is not where we want to be but we can’t control that,” Hill said. “We will have to wait and see what happens and when we play and who.”

And try to find the reset button in time.