Tough loss to Texas St.

Extra inning setback caps 0-3 weekend for Cowboys

A frustrating weekend for the McNeese baseball team was capped off with a 5-3 loss to visiting Texas State in 11 innings on Sunday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.

After scoring 17 and allowing 29 runs in its first two games of the weekend, the Cowboys significantly improved the pitching on Sunday; the five runs allowed is the second-best performance of the early season. But the three runs scored was the second-lowest output of the season as well.

But the Cowboys struggled to consistently hit and some base running errors in key moments also turned out to be their undoing. McNeese (3-4) lost all three games on the weekend at the Lake Area Classic.

“I thought the guys fought,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said after the game. “That was a tough one, we’ve had a couple tough losses. Kind of overall on the weekend, we just didn’t play clean. We made some bad baseball plays and the fortune doesn’t favor you when you do those things.”

Texas State (5-2) took an early lead when, in the top of the second inning, the Bobcats got back-to-back doubles by John Wuthrich and Will Hollis. Wuthrich scored to give Texas State a 1-0 lead.

Cayne Ueckert –- McNeese’s starting pitcher on Sunday – gave up two more runs in the third inning when Wuthrich hit a two-run double. But Ueckert rebounded nicely from that point on, retiring six of the Bobcats’ next seven batters. Although he did not earn a decision in the game, Ueckert had one of McNeese’s best individual pitching performances this season; he went six innings, gave up five hits, three runs (all earned), three walks, and struck out eight (a season-high).

“I thought it was a great effort, especially after us not pitching too well for the first two games,” Hill said. “He gave us the start we needed. They kind of touched him up a little bit early, but he kept the inning small, gave us a chance to win the ballgame. Gave (the offense) a chance to get going.”

McNeese responded in the bottom of the second inning when Carson Maxwell hit a home run – his second of the season – to tie the game at one. Down 3-1 in the third inning, Maxwell got the Cowboys a run back when he drove in Payton Harden with an RBI-single.

While the teams managed to get a few more hits, neither team scored a run from the fourth inning through the eighth. In the top of the ninth, relief pitcher Aidan Anderson loaded the bases with one out after an intentional walk. But the senior got a strike out and induced a fly out to end the inning.

In the bottom half of the ninth, a Reid Borque single that just barely stayed fair down the left field line drove in pinch runner Zach Rider to tie the game at three and send the game to extra innings

In the bottom of 10th, Harden led off with a single and managed to take second thanks to a Brent Hebert wild pitch. But Harden was caught dozing off of second base and was caught stealing in a rundown. Hebert retired the next two Cowboy batters to safely get out of the inning.

“Those are just freshman mistakes there,” Hill said of McNeese’s base running gaffes. “Obviously if you go over it in a classroom setting, a practice setting, those guys know exactly what you’re supposed to do. But when you get in the fight, sometimes you forget your training. Again, those are mistakes and I think we’ll learn from those and be better for it.”

Anderson retired the first two Texas State batters in the 11th inning, but allowed a single to Jaylen Hubbard, who then advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt from Anderson. Hill then made the decision to intentionally walk Wuthrich to pitch to Skyler Valentine, who had one hit up to that point in the season. But he made the Cowboys pay as he ripped a two-run double to left centerfield to give Texas State a 5-3 lead.

McNeese’s attempt to rally almost worked as they were able to load the bases with two outs. But Nate Fisbeck flew out to right field as Valentine made a tough diving catch on the warning track to seal the victory for the Bobcats

Up next for McNeese is a home game on Tuesday against Alcorn State at 6 p.m.

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