FORT WORTH, Texas — McNeese State took a shot at reprising last week’s Southland Conference Tournament victory.
It didn’t work so well in the NCAA Tournament, even if it looked worse on the scoreboard than on the field.
But apparently there are limits to how long you can nurse a onerun lead, and it all came tumbling down late on the fourth-seeded Cowboys in No. 1 Texas Christian’s 12-4 victory.
Hard to believe it was a pitching duel most of the night.
But the No. 6 national seed Horned Frogs, frustrated most of the night as the Cowboys wiggled out of numerous pitching jams, finally exploded for six runs in the seventh and padded it with five more in the eighth.
Just before the uprising the TCU home crowd was expressing their displeasure.
“We had a good show there for six innings,” Mc-Neese head coach Justin Hill said. “They don’t boo nobodies.”
McNeese’s final two runs were basically window dressing in the ninth.
The big TCU uprising came against reliever Cameron Foster, the bullpen hero of last week’s conference title game.
“When you’re the guy sometimes they get you,” Hill said. “He was the guy at the bottom of the dog pile (last week) for a reason.”
It was probably inevitable with a Frogs lineup that had six of its nine batters hitting over .300 as the Cowboys were threading on thin ice most of the game while protecting a 2-1 lead.
Foster got the final out of the sixth but took a line shot off the bottom of his foot on a single to lead off the seventh.
He walked the next two batters to load the bases with no outs for Hunter Wolf’s go-ahead, two-run single.
Foster got the next two outs before another two-run single. He was finally pulled, but TCU’s Luke Boyers hit reliever Christian Vega’s first pitch for his first home run of the season, a tworun shot that completed the nightmare inning for the Cowboys, who struck out 13 times.
Hill visited the mound, but said Foster felt fine and the ball that hit him wasn’t a factor.
“I think he was fine,” Hill said. “He made some good pitches after that. They got him. That was that.”
The Cowboys will try to stave off elimination at noon today against No. 2 seed Oregon State, a 6-5 loser to No. 3 seed Dallas Baptist.
TCU and DBU will play for control of the regional bracket.
The good news?
McNeese will have its ace available today with Will Dion (9-4, 2.82 ERA) on the mound.
Starting pitching wasn’t a problem for the Cowboys Friday as Jonathan Ellison held the Horned Frogs to one run over the first five innings and Brad Kincaid had a scoreless inning.
Ellison allowed three hits, one a solo home run in the bottom of the first by Brayden Taylor for the lone run he gave up.
Just as it had a week ago in the SLC Tournament final, McNeese scored two runs before making the game’s first out while opening the game with three consecutive hits.
But that it until the ninth, way too late.
McNeese chased TCU starter Austin Krob with a pair of singles to lead off the ninth and added two runs that might have come in handy earlier in the game.
“I thought we got off to a good start,” Hill said. “After that I don’t think we had anything. No offensive pressure for the next seven innings.
“The good ones always settle down. We didn’t take advantage of him when we had the chance.”
The Cowboys’ best chance to add more when it mattered came in the sixth when they got runners at the corners with one out before TCU turned a ground-ball double play to get out of the inning.
Then came the fateful seventh inning.