Nicholls ends Cowboy run

Published 9:01 pm Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Cowboys’ surprising postseason run came up a game short of extending to the NCAA Tournament.

Second-seeded Nicholls defended its Southland Conference Tournament title with a 15-1 victory over McNeese State Saturday night in the title game in Hammond. 

The seven-inning, run-rule loss came just a few hours after McNeese had earned a trip to the finals by run-ruling top-seeded Lamar 14-4. The Colonels (38-20) went 4-0 this week at Pat Kenelly Diamond, earning the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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The fifth-seeded Cowboys saw their season end at 32-27, their ninth 30-win campaign in 10 full years for head coach Justin Hill. The 2020 season was canceled after 17 games due to COVID.

For the Cowboys, it was their fourth trip to the SLC title game in the last five tournaments. They won the crown in 2019 and 2021. McNeese, however, ran out of gas in this finale.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Hill. “It has been a tough road to the finals.”

Shortstop Parker Coddou hit a pair of home runs, including a three-run shot in the second, to power Nicholls to the championship. The Colonels finished with 16 hits as every starter had at least one.

Coddou’s first homer was the big blow early for the Colonels, erasing Cooper Hext’s solo shot in the first that put McNeese up 1-0. It was all Nicholls after that.

Dylan Farley had his best outing of the year, allowing just four hits while going the distance to improve to 3-2. Zach Voss, who started both games Saturday for the Pokes, took the loss, finishing the season at 2-6.

Coddou put the game out of reach with a two-run shot to cap a six-run fifth that gave Nicholls an 11-1 lead. The Colonels added four more in the top of the seventh to end the game’s scoring.

McNeese had a chance to tie the game twice with the bases loaded in the third. First Elliot Hebert was robbed on a shallow fly to center by Coddou who made a running over-the-shoulder catch.

Then a diving stop at third by Gerardo Villarreal (three hits) kept Braley Hollins from evening the score moments later. That was about it for the Cowboys in this one.

McNeese reached the title game with its own 10-run victory over Lamar earlier in the day. The Cowboys, who lost to the Cardinals the day before 18-9, reversed the outcome behind a seven-run first inning.

Ty Abraham (4-3) threw 4⅔ innings of relief. He didn’t allow a run and gave up just one hit to the red-hot Cardinals, who entered the game having scored 36 runs in their last two games.

Hebert and Peyton LeJeune each hit two-run homers in the first inning against Lamar. Hebert had a pair of home runs and drove in five against Cardinal pitching. For LeJeune, the home run was his fourth of the tourney, one more than he had during the regular season.

Regarding homers, River Orask hit his record seventh home run of the tournament for Lamar, his sixth in the last three games over two days. Lamar (44-15) will have to wait until Monday to see if they get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“That is a good team over there,” Hill said of Lamar. “They deserve to be in a Regional.”