Demons capitalize on Cowboys’ mistakes, score four runs in one inning

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2023

One bad inning can kill a good week.

After playing solid baseball for 372/3 innings in the Southland Conference Tournament, the Cowboys stumbled in the bottom of the sixth Friday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.

Northwestern State jumped on the opportunity and ran with it, scoring four times on two hits to break open a tight game. The result was a 6-2 win for the Demons over McNeese State and ending the Cowboys’ season.

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McNeese finished 35-23 while Northwestern State (29-26) continued on and played the late game against New Orleans. The winner will have to beat Nicholls twice today starting at 1 p.m. to win the league title.

“It is always tough when it ends,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “It is one of those speeches you are never ready to make. It hurts.”

Trailing 2-1 into the sixth, the Cowboys turned to Derrick Cherry out of the bullpen and things went sideways from there.

Cherry gave up four runs and didn’t record an out. His error on a little dribbler up the first-base line was the killer. He then hit a batter and walked the next two to load the bases and force in a run.

Bo Willis singled in two runs and the Demons had a 6-1 lead before an out was made.

“We made the one mistake and could not recover,” Hill said. ”They took advantage of it.”

The Cowboys had their chance early against Northwestern State starter Drayton Brown, loading the bases with one out in the first. But Brown got out of it when Braley Hollins hit a sharp roller to third that Michael Dattalo tuned into a double play.

“That was big for us,” Brown said. ”That gave me some confidence.”

Brown went the distance for the first complete game of his career. He threw 115 pitches, 28 in the first inning.

“No way,” Brown said when asked if he thought about the complete game after the first. ”I was just trying to stick around awhile.”

Broch Holmes hit a two-run home run off McNeese starter Burrell Jones in the second to give the Demons the lead for good. It was the first of Holmes’ three hits and saddled Jones (4-5) with the loss.

McNeese scored its two runs thanks to Josh Leslie. His double in the third scored Payton Harden from first and his single in the eighth brought home Braden Duhon from second.

The rest of the game belonged to Brown (6-6), who at one time retired 13 Cowboys in a row.

“I just tried to get ahead and get them reaching,” Brown said.

Jones wasn’t bad in his five innings, allowing four hits and the two runs but he was hit hard on the foot in the fourth and stayed in for six more outs.

The only other McNeese player to get two hits, aside from Leslie, was Tré Obregon, who also had a single and a double. The Cowboys managed six hits off Brown, whose two walks came in the first.

“Give their pitcher credit, he got out of trouble early and really settled down,” Hill said. ”We could not get anything going after that.

“That is the beauty and the agony of the game.”