Cowboys go for sweep of Panthers

McNeese’s starter Cayne Ueckert during their Southland Conference match-up at Joe Miller Ballpark in Lake Charles, La., Sunday, March 4, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Rick Hickman

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p>McNeese 10, Prairie View A&M 6 </p>” id=”86bb2b3c-a177-4447-add8-b3803417d0a7″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

It did not take long for the McNeese State baseball team to put Saturday’s game out of reach of Prairie View A&M as it clinched the series with a 10-6 victory at Joe Miller Ballpark.

The Cowboys (24-27) scored at least a run in the first four innings of the game, which included a six-run fourth inning that earned them a 10-0 lead.

“I thought the guys did a really good job,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “I think we probably could have won the game a little more convincingly today. But one of the things I was hoping to be able to do this weekend was try to get some other guys in there in case we might need them in a tight spot either in the tournament or next weekend (against Lamar in the regular-season finale).”

While the Cowboys continued to string hits together to take the 10-run lead, starting pitcher Cayne Ueckert (4-2, 4.47 ERA) took care of business on the mound as he went the first five innings, giving up two hits to the Panthers (13-37).

He showed grit in the second inning after giving up a single, a walk and a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. He proceeded to strike out the next two batters then forced a fielder’s choice to get out of the inning unscathed.

“He executed really well at moments,” Hill said. “He minimized mistakes. … He kept the game right there. He kept hanging those zeros and giving us a chance to put together a big inning.”

The Cowboys’ rocked PVAM starting pitcher Tyler Laux (4-3, 6.43) for 10 runs on 10 hits in five innings. Laux’s replacement, Cristian Cooper, fared much better in his three innings on the mound, allowing two hits while keeping McNeese scoreless for the remainder of the game.

“It always feels good to put up a bunch of runs,” said McNeese third baseman Carson Maxwell. “We’re doing a really good job with people in scoring position. Toward the beginning of the season and even as late as a couple weeks ago, we’d have people in scoring position, but we couldn’t put together more hits for runs. It feels good to get guys around.”

The Cowboys’ lack of production after the fourth inning allowed the Panthers to make a comeback attempt as they slowly chipped away at the deficit.

Ueckert’s first replacement, Chris Campbell, gave up three runs despite the Panthers not earning a hit in the sixth inning as he walked five batters and Maxwell committed a fielding error that allowed the third run to score. Gavin Sonnier also struggled in the seventh inning, giving up two runs on two hits, and Brad Strahan gave up another run in the eighth inning.

“We could have shut the game down earlier,” Hill said. “Chris really struggled in that inning, Gavin wasn’t sharp and Brody (Strahan) wasn’t necessarily sharp either. We could have finished the game sooner, but I don’t really care about our stats right now.”

The Cowboys and Panthers will return to Joe Miller Ballpark at 1 p.m. today when McNeese will try to complete their third sweep of the season. Peyton McLemore (2-1, 5.59) will get the start for the Cowboys.

 
 

McNeese 10, Prairie View A&M 6