Keeton’s home run review lifts Cowboys

Published 10:28 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

A home run that was first ruled a double became a game-winning blast for the Cowboys.

Chase Keeton’s two-run shot in the seventh capped a furious McNeese comeback Friday night in the first game of a huge Southland Conference series against rival Southeastern.

Keeton’s sixth homer of the season wiped out a five-run Lions lead and lifted the Cowboys to a 9-8 victory at Joe Miller Ballpark. 

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“I thought it hit off the black,” said Keeton, meaning the ball was above the yellow home-run line in left-center. “I knew when I first hit it I thought it had a chance.”

But the umpires ruled it in play at first before a long meeting when they changed the call. That led to SLU head coach Bobby Barbier getting tossed from the game after disagreeing loudly.

Still, there was no final judgment until after another delay by way of video review. In the end, the replay showed the home run call was correct.

The victory gave McNeese (20-20, 4-9) a leg up in the race for the eighth and final berth in the postseason conference tournament. The Lions (21-20. 3-10) now must win two in a row on the road to take back the advantage.

“We are just trying to win every single one,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “We haven’t had a rhythm to us.”

Ty Abraham and Cameron LeJeune – two former starters – joined to close the game. They split the final four innings, each allowing just one hit. Abraham earned the victory to improve to 2-2 while LeJeune picked up his fourth save.

But it was the offense that did the big work for the Cowboys. Braden Duhon had two hits and drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in the third that tied the game. 

After falling behind 8-3 as the Lions scored two in the fourth and three in the fifth, McNeese used four walks and an error to close the lead to 8-7 with four of their own in the bottom of the fifth.

That led to Keeton’s comeback winner.

“Hope to use the momentum for the rest of the weekend,” said Keeton. “You try not to think about (the playoff race). You can’t worry about it.”

Home runs by Jake Killingsworth (4) and TJ Salvaggio (9) led the Lions attack.

Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday afternoon with the first pitch at 2 p.m.