FORT WORTH, Texas — Those crooked numbers will get you every time.
Two big innings rose up and bit McNeese State again Saturday, sending the Cowboys packing from the NCAA Tournament’s Fort Worth Regional after Oregon State’s 10-5 victory.
“That’s just baseball,” said McNeese’s hitting star, Jake Dickerson. “Sometimes you play good, but somebody else plays better.”
Not by much.
But it was enough to send the Cowboys home without a victory from their second consecutive appearance in the tournament.
McNeese led 2-0, trailed 5-2 and then tied the score at 5-all before Oregon State (35-23) put a five-spot on the board in the top of the eighth inning to advance in the regional.
“It’s tough,” said Dickerson, who drove in three runs while going 2-for-3. “Especially knowing I’ll never play for McNeese again.”
The Cowboys (32-20) didn’t go down easy.
“I said the only way to stop us was to kill us,” McNeese coach Justin Hill said. “They finally got us.”
McNeese ace Will Dion gave the Cowboys six excellent innings — unfortunately he pitched seven innings, and the Beavers bunched together six of their seven against him in the five-run fourth, including a two-out, three-run double by No. 9 hitter Kyle Dernedde.
“I felt good, I was hitting my spots,” Dion said. “Then in the fourth inning some balls leaked out and they took advantage of it.”
Dion recovered, retiring the final nine batters he faced, but it ran his pitch count to 117 to keep him from coming back for the eighth.
But he kept McNeese in the game and the Cowboys kept chipping away, with Dickerson’s two-run single in the fifth before he added another RBI single in the seventh to tie the score at 5-5.
“Not everybody can come back like that,” Hill said.
“The dugout was alive after we tied it back up,” Dion said. “The defense the offense … everybody knew what their job was. It’s a matter of who can execute and the other team executed better.”
“It’s was electric,” Dickerson said. “I thought we had the momentum going back out.”
But with Dion done for the day, the Cowboys’ bullpen struggled for a second consecutive day as the Beavers put up five runs in the eighth.
Cameron Foster (1-5), the star of last week’s Southland Conference championship game, took the loss, as he did in the 12-4 Friday loss to Texas Christian. This time he didn’t retire a batter while giving up three runs on two hits and a walk. Isaac Duplechain and J.T. Peloquin didn’t fare much better during the five-run disaster.
The big hit was another three-run double by Dernedde, who went in hitting .211 before driving in six runs in the game, won by Chase Watkins (3-4).
“We had a guy have a good day,” Hill said, meaning Dickerson. “They had a guy in the nine-hole that had a great day.”
Dion finished with eight strikeouts to become McNeese’s single-season leader with
“It feels good,” Dion said of the record, which had stood for 31 years. “But I think a ‘W’ would have felt better.”
“That’s the thing about this game and baseball,” Hill added. “It’s never enough. You always want one more. One more chance. One more swing.
“There’s only one team at the end of the year that is satisfied.