McNeese completes sweep with 11-5 win over Prairie View
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
By nature Sunday college baseball games are a grind. Yesterday McNeese learned it could grind out victory when needed.
Combining small ball with the long ball, McNeese completed a four-game weekend sweep of Prairie View at Joe Miller Ballpark in front of a COVID-restricted crowd of 440.
Home runs by Peyton Johnson and Kade Morris, the first of the year for both, powered the Cowboys to an 11-5 victory and a 4-3 record. It also helped erase memories of last weekend’s sweep at the hands of nationally ranked Alabama.
“It was good to get back home and get some wins,” said Morris. “We played well last weekend we just didn’t win at the end. This weekend we made the big plays.”
Morris, playing out of position, may have had the biggest in the first inning. With the first two runners on for Prairie View (0-4), Morris went deep in the hole at short to start a rally-killing double play, the first of two by the Cowboys.
“This felt a little like the late 90s when we called it bloody Sunday,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “It may not always look pretty but you have to stay with it.”
Especially this year as the Southland Conference is going to four-game series on weekends instead of three.
“I like playing four games,” said Morris. “You have to stay focused but it is great to play that many games and get in a rhythm.”
McNeese survived three errors, walking seven and hitting another three Panthers with some timely defense, turning a pair of double plays and throwing out three PVU runners trying to advance.
“You just have to kind of stay with it on Sundays,” said Hill. “I thought we made enough plays when it counted.”
One constant no matter the day is Clayton Rasbeary, who picked up three more hits to raise his average to .519 in the early going. His 2-run double in the eighth gave him seven RBIs, tops on McNeese. Six of his 14 hits have been for extra bases.
The senior outielder has gotten at least one hit in every game.
“He is right in the middle of everything,” said Hill. “They must have felt like he was coming up every inning.”
Rasbeary finished the day 3-for-4 and scored three runs. He scored the game’s last run on a balk.
Morris’ homer was the big blast, as it put a cap on a five-run fifth inning that put the Cowboys comfortable ahead 8-3. But McNeese also scored the hard way, picking up a pair of runs on sacrifice flies, a passed by and that final balk.
Johnson, who also had a sacrifice fly, hit his home run in the second, tying the game at 1-1. His scoring fly came after Brett Whelton did the same in the third as McNeese scored twice without a hit.
Sean Michael Brady, the third of six McNeese pitchers, got the win, his first of the year. Victor Mendoza (0-1) took the loss.
McNeese will be back in action Wednesday night, when it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Raymond Stewart / Special to the American Press