LAKE CHARLES – Rhett Deaton threw six innings of three-run ball then the fresh McNeese bullpen closed out the final three innings by striking out seven of the nine outs to hurl the Cowboys to a 5-3 win over UNO on Friday night and capturing the Southland Conference series.
Deaton remained perfect on the year by improving to 6-0. Three pitchers came out of the pen – Grant Anderson, Trent Fontenot, Collin Kober – to pitch an inning apiece, each throwing a scoreless inning while allowing one hit per frame.
Fontenot and Kober each struck out the side as Kober notched his seventh save of the season.
“They (UNO) battled,” said head coach Justin Hill who has his Cowboys out to their best start through 34 games since the 2000 season, now at 25-9. “They made him (Deaton) throw extra pitches but he continued to make good pitches throughout the night. He kept making quality pitch after quality pitch.”
Deaton struck out three of the first five batters he faced and fanned six in his six innings of work.
The Privateers got just one extra-base hit on him, that being a solo home run by left fielder Dakota Dean to lead off the fourth inning and tying the game at 1-1.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff,” said Hill, “but he was good. He competed tonight.”
McNeese, who improved to 15-2 in conference play, jumped on top 1-0 after Mitchell Rogers led off the bottom of the third with his fifth home run of the season.
After UNO (19-17, 8-9) tied it on Dean’s homer, the Privateers went up 2-1 on a Sam Capielano sacrifice fly that scored Hezekiah Randolph, who walked after Dean’s solo shot.
McNeese answered with two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead.
In the fourth inning, Ricky Ramirez, Jr. blasted a one-out double to extend his streak to 28 consecutive games by reaching base. Matt Gallier followed with a home run just over the left-center field wall to put the Cowboys up 3-2. It was Gallier’s ninth home run of the season.
In the fifth inning, Rogers led off the frame with a walk then scored after a Will Fox double down the left field line got away from Dean in left field that allowed Rogers to score and Fox take third base. Fox then scored on a single by Brett Whelton to make it 5-2.
UNO added its third run in the seventh, one that was charged to Deaton, but then the bullpen shut the door.
“They went in there and did their thing,” said Hill of his three relief pitchers on the night. “That’s the good thing about our bullpen. They get after it and don’t beat themselves.”
Gallier had two of the Cowboys eight hits on the night to go along with two runs batted in. Rogers, Fox and Whelton each had a RBI.
UNO starting pitcher Bryan Warzak took his first loss of the season, falling to 5-1. The five runs allowed are the most he’s given up in a game on the year. The same with McNeese’s two home runs.
With the Cowboys’ win and Sam Houston State’s loss to Stephen F. Austin, McNeese now pulls a half-game ahead of the Bearkats in the league standings, not using percentage. McNeese is two wins up on SHSU in the win column and one game down in the loss.
McNeese will go for the series sweep on Sunday with first pitch set for 3 p.m. Right-handed pitcher Aidan Anderson will get his second straight weekend start for the Cowboys.