Cowboys clinch SLC berth, sweep DH from Bears

Special to the American Press

CONWAY, Ark. — A threerun sixth inning propelled Mc-Neese State to a 6-1, seven-inning victory over Central Arkansas in the first game of a doubleheader Friday, clinching a berth in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament in Hammond.

For good measure, the defending tournament champions won the second game, 6-5 in 10 innings.

The regular-season finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. today. The Cowboys (28-27, 21-17), who have won six of their last seven games, are tied with Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State for third place in the SLC standings. UCA (22-28, 17-22) is facing long odds to make the tournament.

In the opener, Will Dion (8-4) went the distance, striking out nine, walking none and scattering five hits for his fourth consecutive win. He retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced.

The Cowboys, who stranded 10 baserunners, scored six unanswered runs with one in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Nate Fisbeck, Reid Bourque and Brett Whelton drove in two runs each to account for the Cowboys’ runs. Jake Dickerson had two hits and scored twice and leadoff hitter Payton Harden had two of the Cowboys’ seven hits. Harden also swiped a pair of bases and was hit by pitch, one of seven thrown by UCA pitchers.

The Bears’ Coby Potvin had two hits and scored the game’s first run on A.J. Mendolia’s ground out after hitting a triple in the first inning.

Starter Conner Williams (2-2) took the loss. He lasted five innings, allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits. He struck out seven but hit four batters. Reliever Tyler Cleveland faced seven batters, recording two outs and was roughed up for two runs and had control problems with a walk and three hit batsmen. Jack Haley went 11/3 innings, yielding two runs on two hits.

The Bears’ defense didn’t help their pitchers, booting the ball three times.

In the second game, Cooper Hext hit his first homer of the season — and the third of the game for the Cowboys — to lift McNeese to the win.

The Cowboys seemed to have the game in control with starter Jonathan Ellison exiting after six innings and a 4-1 lead. But the Bears got to the Cowboys’ bullpen in the bottom of the seventh when Mendolia hit a bases-clearing triple to tie the score. He scored a Rylan Meek sacrifice fly to center to give the Bears a 5-4 lead.

McNeese tied the score in the eighth when Nate Collins led off with a pinchhit double. Hext, running for Collins, scored on a throwing error to tie it at 5.

Reliever Cameron Foster (1-3) got the win. Williams (2-3) took the loss, his second of the day.

Tré Obregon was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Julian Gonzales and Kade Morris each homered and Fisbeck had two hits.

The Cowboys scored twice in the fifth inning to stake a 3-1 lead. Morris broke a 1-all tie with his eighth homer of the season, a solo shot down the left-field line. An RBI double by Obregon upped the lead to 3-1. Gonzales’ seventh homer of the season, a solo shot to right field in the sixth inning, upped the lead to 4-1.

The Bears scored their first run — unearned — on a wild pitch in the second inning to tie the score at 1-all.””McNeese baseball

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