Cowboys run themselves out of runs

McNeese’s Jake Cochran starts off the bottom of the 6th inning with a single during a Southland Conference game at Joe Miller Ballpark in Lake Charles, La., Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

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The McNeese State baseball team couldn’t quite erase a late three-run deficit and Southeastern Louisiana beat the Cowboys 5-4 Thursday night at Joe Miller Ballpark.

The Cowboys (9-16, 6-4 Southland Conference) left a lot of potential runs on the board due to uncharacteristic baserunning mistakes, and the pitching staff walked 10 Lions (20-9, 8-2).

{{tncms-inline content=”<p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><strong>FINAL | SE Louisiana </strong><strong>5, </strong><strong>McNeese </strong><strong>4</strong></p>” id=”83d73eca-90d2-49dc-a9a2-da49b2fb31f3″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent”}}

“The bottom line is we gave them too many freebies,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “They’re an offense that really thrives on those things. Credit them, they took some tough pitches. We just have to make more.”

It didn’t take long for the Lions to get on the board as SLU leadoff hitter Cody Grosse hit a single, stole second and scored on an RBI double down the right-field line by cleanup hitter Kyle Schimpf.

McNeese answered in the bottom half of the frame after a Reid Bourque leadoff single followed by a Shane Selman triple.

SLU regained a lead in the third inning on a two-RBI double by nine-hole hitter Trey Harrington that scored Brennan Breaud and Evan Pace.

McNeese’s Jacob Stracner got a run back in the fourth inning with a solo home run that went over the scoreboard, but the Lions extended their lead back to two runs in the fifth inning with an RBI double by Grosse.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Cowboys and Lions will return at 6 p.m. today for Game 2 of the series.</strong></p>” id=”6570029d-b8b3-4901-a3ac-9687225b545e” style-type=”refer” title=”UP NEXT” type=”relcontent”}}

The Cowboys made a couple baserunning mistakes that ended innings and potentially kept runs off the board.

The fourth inning ended when Dustin Duhon — who reached second on a double — bolted for third base on a routine pop fly by Mitchell Rogers and couldn’t make it back to second in time before being thrown out. Hill said Duhon misread the ball and thought it was down.

The sixth inning came to an end in odd fashion. After a wild pitch put Selman and Jake Cochran on second and third base, respectively, Stracner hit a grounder hard to SLU pitcher Corey Gaconi, who promptly threw the ball home to Pace. This forced Cochran to double back to third where Selman was already on his way. Both got tagged by Harrington, SLU’s third baseman, to end the inning.sprh.0329.msu.vs.southeastern-2.pngRickHickmanPhotographer
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“That was a baserunning mistake that we had,” Hill said. “That’s something we work on, and we know what to do. But you don’t get a do-over in a game.”

SLU designated hitter Taylor Schwaner extended the Lions lead to 5-2 with an RBI double, which turned out to be a big play as the Cowboys scored two in the bottom half of the inning.

After back-to-back walks drawn by Selman and Joe Provenzano, Stracner brought Selman around with a double down the left-field line and Duhon grounded out allowing Provenzano to score and pull the Cowboys within a run going into the last inning.

The Cowboys went down in order in the ninth inning, ending the comeback bid.

After the game, Stracner could be heard giving the team a pep talk in which he emphasized teamwork.

“We just have to be better as a unit,” Stracner said. “We have to be able to pick each other up. When the guys on the bump aren’t doing their thing, we have to pick them up. When the hitters aren’t doing their thing, the pitchers have to pick us up. It’s a team sport.”

Gaconey (2-1, 4.97 ERA) went 6 2/3 innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits and striking out nine.sprh.0329.msu.vs.southeastern-6.pngRickHickmanPhotographer
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McNeese starter Grant Anderson (2-3, 4.18) took the loss after four innings in which he gave up three earned runs on six hits, walked four and striking out four.

Reliever Cayne Ueckert made his first appearance in two weeks, going 2 2/3 innings allowing a run on two hits with two strikeouts and five walks.

The Cowboys and Lions will return at 6 p.m. today for Game 2 of the series.

FINAL | SE Louisiana 5, McNeese 4

The Cowboys and Lions will return at 6 p.m. today for Game 2 of the series.

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