Cowboys start slow, finish fast

McNeese Cowboy Brett Whelton (13) slides safely into home plate against Houston Baptist Huskies during a Southland Conference game at Cowboy Diamond in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Tuesday, April 17,2018. (Dennis Babineaux/Special to the American Press)

Dennis Babineaux/Special to the American Press

{{tncms-inline content=”<p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><strong>McNeese </strong><strong>11, </strong><strong>Houston Baptist </strong><strong>8</strong></p>” id=”8227fa2f-088f-4e91-918c-89e8b6f89b43″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent”}}

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p class="p2"><strong>Friday <strong>6 p.m.</strong></strong></p> <p class="p2"><strong>vs. Northwestern St.</strong></p>” id=”fdef67cf-faea-4bcc-b591-c24dbb2c0c64″ style-type=”fact” title=”UP NEXT” type=”relcontent”}}

The McNeese State baseball team overcame a rough start to take down Houston Baptist 11-8 in a midweek, nonconference game against the Southland Conference rival Tuesday night in Joe Miller Ballpark.

The Cowboys (17-20) fell behind by five runs after first relief pitcher Austin Briggs gave up six runs on six hits while recording two outs, giving the Huskies (16-21) a 6-1 lead in the second inning.

“It’s not exactly how you draw it up, but we knew it was a Tuesday ballgame,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “It was early. It was 6-1 in the second inning. We had a good offensive inning in the first, then they touched us up. They did a great job scoring that many with two outs. Credit to them.”

The deficit didn’t last long, however as the Cowboys stormed back with a seven-run seventh inning that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

After Reid Bourque and Shane Selman drew walks and Joe Provenzano hit a single to load the bases, Duhon got the scoring started with a bases-loaded walk for the first run of the inning.

Jake Cochran and Mitchell Rogers followed that with back-to-back singles for two more runs, and Jacob Stracner hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Duhon.

After Stracner stole second base, Brett Whelton hit a two-RBI single up the middle that gave the Cowboys a 7-6 lead.

Finally, Bourque hit an RBI single in his second plate appearance of the inning to take a two-run lead and cap the scoring for the inning.

“Everything was productive,” Hill said. “I thought that was really impressive offensive performance by our guys.”

Carson Maxwell added to the lead with a home run in the fifth inning, and Provenzano blasted a no-doubter over the right-field wall in the sixth inning to increase McNeese’s lead to 10-6.

Maxwell said he didn’t think his was going to go over the fence when it came off the bat, but a strong wind into left field helped push it over to extend the Cowboys’ lead.

“We’re pretty comfortable, but I’d say we’re more confident,” Maxwell said. “One person gets a hit and that leads to another person getting a hit. It’s contagious.”

The Cowboys’ seven-run inning was the third such frame McNeese has pulled off in the last week, the first coming last Tuesday against Louisiana-Lafayette and the second Sunday against New Orleans.

Hill said the Cowboys are beginning to see their hard work pay off, and it’s giving them confidence as they head into the back end of the season.

“You have to experience something to believe it on a higher level,” Hill said. “That Lafayette game when we scored seven in that inning, now we’ve done it two more times since then. The big inning is how you win baseball games. Once you break through that pressure, you start to understand that you can breathe.”

The Cowboys will return to Joe Miller Ballpark at 6 p.m. Friday when they host a three-game SLC series opener against Northwestern State.

McNeese 11, Houston Baptist 8

Friday 6 p.m.

vs. Northwestern St.