McNeese’s Dion named National Pitcher of Week
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
Will Dion knew from his very first pitch Friday night he was on his game.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed.
The redshirt sophomore lefty from Sulphur went on to tie a McNeese record that night, striking out 19 Prairie View hitters. For his performance, Collegiate Baseball named him their National Pitcher of the Week.
Dion tied the record set by Terry Burrows back in 1990, when he mowed down Louisiana-Lafayette.
“He was really on his game,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said afterward. “He got ahead of hitters and never really had a stressful inning.”
It caused a headache for the head coach of sorts, who usually would limit a pitcher early in the season.
“I kept watching him and he was throwing so well,” Hill said. “He was throwing clean innings.”
Until the ninth when the Panthers touched Dion for two of their three hits. With just one out and runners at the corners, he was in danger of losing the shutout. However, he responded by striking out the last two hitters, giving him five over the final two innings.
“No way I was coming out,” Dion said.
The victory, Dion’s first in two decisions this year, started the Cowboys on a weekend sweep of Prairie View and a 4-3 record.
Dion allowed just the one runner to reach third and walked only one, as well. He threw 83 strikes in 103 pitches, good for 81 percent. Of his first 39 pitches, 34 went for strikes.
“I was able to get ahead and that was big,” said Dion. “I just tried to go after them, throw strikes and stay ahead in the counts.”
Three times he struck out the side and retired the first 13 batters he faced. Dion’s first six innings took just 24 minutes. He currently leads the nation in strikeouts with 24.
McNeese will be at home Wednesday night when they take on Louisiana-Lafayette. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Kirk Meche / American Press Archives