Cowboys miss chance at taking series from New Orleans

Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press

What started so good ended in a sea of walks, runs and more than a little frustration.

After winning the first two games of the Southland Conference series against New Orleans, McNeese State still had a chance to claim the 4-game series Sunday.

But what beat them in the nightcap Saturday came back to haunt the Cowboys again yesterday at Joe Miller Ballpark.

On a windy day, seven McNeese pitchers combine to walk 11 and give up 13 hits in a 13-10 loss to the Privateers. That was 24 walks over the last two games and 33 for the series handed out by Cowboy hurlers.

The defeat dropped McNeese to 21-23 overall and 14-13 in SLC play. UNO improved to 25-19, 20-12.

“It can be frustrating,” said Mc-Neese head coach Justin Hill. “It’s OK to be frustrated, you just have to let that go. We have a lot of baseball still to play.”

McNeese pitchers struggled to handle the middle of the UNO lineup, as Pearce Howard and Luther Woullard combine to go 6-for-10 with six runs batted in and another five scored.

Woullard was especially tough in innings 5-7 when UNO batted around twice and missed doing it a third time by one hitter. The Privateers scored 12 of their runs during those frames, as they rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Woullard had a single, double and was intentionally walked in those innings, driving in four runs. Howard had a pair of doubles and scored three times in that span as well.

But it was the work around the two that hurt McNeese, as seven Privateers walked, another was hit, another reached base while striking out thanks to a wild pitch and still another got on by error. Of those 10 runners eight scored. In all six UNO runs reached base by walk, adding to the five in Game 2 Saturday.

“Give them credit, they took their walks and got the big hits,” said Hill. “We were pitching with a lot of traffic on the bases and from behind. That’s hard to do.”

McNeese starter Ty Abraham (2-2) got the loss while Austin Acree (2-1) got the win in relief for UNO. Caleb Seroski worked the final inning to earn his ninth save.

“We have shown our best at times and we have shown our worst,” said Hill. “We are not happy with the split.”

McNeese did have its offensive heroes, finishing with 14 hits. Nate Collins had four of those, including his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot in the fourth to give McNeese a 3-1 lead. Collins raised his average to .421 with the big day.

Payton Harden went 3-for-5 and scored three runs. For the weekend Harden finished 9-for-17 in the series and 8-for-14 over the last two days. Nate Fisbeck also hit a 2-run shot, giving him six for the season.

It was after Collins’ homer Hill said he made a mistake. After the next two runners reached base there were Cowboys on first and second with none out. Instead of bunting, Hill went for the kill. A pop-up and double play ended the rally.

“I got greedy,” Hill said. “That was my fault. I was going for the big inning. I didn’t put our team in a good position.

“We have shown this year that we can beat any team out there. We have also shown that we can be beaten on any day.”

The Cowboys will try to get back on track next weekend when they travel to Northwestern State for a 4-game weekend series.

””

McNeese State’s Reid Bourque slides into second base as University of New Orlean’s Darren Willis rolls the double play during a Southland Conference matchup at Joe Miller Ballpark Sunday. UNO rallied from 3-1 down to beat the Cowboys 13-10.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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