Cowboys win on Rogers two-run HR

McNeese State’s Mitchell Rogers is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning that proved to be the winning run against Abilene Christian during a Southland Conference game Friday at Joe Miller Park. The Cowboys won 3-2. The three-game series continues today.

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McNeese State first baseman Mitchell Rogers was just trying to put the ball in play when he hit what turned out to be the winning two-run home run in the seventh inning of a 3-2 victory against Abilene Christian Friday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.

Andrew Bryan led off the inning with a double into right-center field, and Jake Cochran moved pinchrunner Julian Gonzales on third base with a sacrifice bunt.

McNeese head coach Justin Hill pulled Rogers aside before the at-bat to make sure he didn’t squander the opportunity by trying to hit the ball too hard.

“Coach called me over to the dugout and literally said the words ‘Do not try to hit a home run,’” Rogers said. “He said those will happen. I was trying to hit a ground ball off the second base bag, and he happened to hang a slider and I got it.”

The homer marked a bright spot in what was otherwise a pretty sloppy game for the Cowboys (12-18, 8-5 Southland Conference).

Poor baserunning plagued the Cowboys against the last-place Wildcats (14-14, 2-11), especially in a second inning when they had runners at the corners with no outs.

Joe Provenzano, thinking a ball went foul, trotted between third base and home plate before getting caught and tagged for the first out.

One batter later, Cochran flew out to second base, and Bryan, thinking there were two outs, made it to second base before ACU center fielder Matt Munoz caught the ball and threw him out at first to end the inning.

“An ugly win’s better than a pretty loss,” Hill said. “We played stupid.

We’re better coached than that, and we know better. Not knowing the outs and the play when the umpire called fair, it doesn’t cost us anything to go home. I’m happy that we won, but we have to play better.”

McNeese starting pitcher Grant Anderson (3-3, 3.22 ERA) earned the win with a seveninning gem, giving up one earned run in the first inning.

“He pitched really well,” Hill said of Anderson. “Just like most starters, you kind of have to survive that first time through the order. I thought he elevated his game the next time through.”

He struggled a bit in the seventh, giving up an unearned run thanks in large part to a fielding error when he tried to pick up a bunt and later a wild pitch that scored ACU’s Zach Smith.

But Rogers’ home run negated the mistakes, and Anderson’s twin Aidan Anderson went in and finished the game, going the last two innings to earn his second save.

Aidan Anderson didn’t make things easy on himself, giving up two hits in the eighth inning and a pair of two-out walks in the ninth inning before closing it out by inducing a groundout.

“That’s going to happen,” Hill said. “When you’re in the fire, you’re not going to have your best stuff every time. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he was a competitor. I thought he gave a warrior effort today and found a way to get the job done.”

ACU starting pitcher Brock Barger (2-3, 5.09) got the loss after going 6 1/3 innings in which he gave up three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. He came out after Rogers’ home run.

The Cowboys and Wildcats will return to action at 3 p.m. today.

“We’re glad this one’s over,” Provenzano said. “We’re just going to refocus, lock in and hopefully play better Cowboy baseball.”

McNeese 3, Abilene Christian 2

Today 3 p.m.

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