McNeese opens home baseball schedule

Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press

Three competitive losses at the hands of the No. 25 team in the nation might have made for a bad week for Justin Hill, but after the last year he has a different perspective.

Oh, the McNeese State head baseball coach still wants to win just like before, but he understands last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Alabama was the first steps on the long road to recovery.

“It is never OK to lose,” Hill said, “but if we play like that, we will be fine.”

Hill and the Cowboys (0-3) open their home season at 6 p.m. today when they start a four-game weekend series with Prairie View A&M.

Saturday will see a double-header beginning at 2 p.m. with Sunday’s finale set for 1 p.m.

“This is exciting,” Hill said. “We get to play a home game in front of our fans.”

Well, some of them. COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, but after all this team has been through, getting back on the field was all that matters.

“We could have played the Yankees in New York last weekend, it would not have mattered,” Hill said. “We just wanted to go play somebody.”

And after a week of freezing conditions and little or no water, they were happy for the simple things.

“It was great to be able to take a hot shower,” Hill said.

Nothing will look normal when McNeese lefty Will Dion (0-1, 9.00 ERA) throws the first pitch tonight.

The facilities remain under construction as repairs from Hurricanes Laura and Delta are made. The Cowboys will use a tent as a dressing room. They will have a new blue and green field to play on.

Still, they get a chance to play baseball at home.

“This will go down to the last minute,” Hill said while speaking over the sounds of construction during a recent practice. “We have kind of gotten used to all the noise.”

Hill said the Cowboys will use this weekend to get ready for the Southland Conference and its schedule. Unlike in the past, all weekend league series are set for four games, not usual three, with a double-header on Saturday.

Saturday’s games will be nine and seven innings, respectively. If the first game goes extra innings the second game will be seven innings.

“This is a very beneficial weekend for us,” Hill said. “We want to mirror as best we can what our league rules will be.”

Hill will stick with the same starting rotation he used last week with Dion, Ty Abraham (0-0, 0.00) and Christian Vega (0-0, 8.10) with the fourth starter not decided.

Clayton Rasbeary (.417) was 5-for-12 at Alabama and will lead a solid offense back to Joe Miller Ballpark. Rasbeary, who has hit safely in all three games, is one of four Cowboys hitting better than .300 — catcher Brett Whelton (.400), second baseman Nate Fisbeck (.357 with a team-high three doubles) and first baseman Jake Dickerson (.333).

Prairie View, which has beaten McNeese once in 43 games, has yet to play a game after having all three of its games in the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans canceled last weekend.McNeese baseball

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