OMAHA – A Matt Gallier third inning grand slam opened up the flood gates for the McNeese Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park as the Cowboys scored nine unanswered runs after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning to down Creighton 9-4 and finish off a three-game sweep over the Big East Conference’s first place team.
The win improves the Cowboys to 34-16 on the season and sets up the final week of the regular season with four home games beginning Tuesday at 6 against nationally ranked Houston.
“I was proud of our guys and how they played today,” said head coach Justin Hill whose team’s 34 wins is the most for the Cowboys since winning 35 games in 2006. “They could have been satisfied with a series win on the road especially after a rough first inning.”
Creighton (22-22) jumped on McNeese starting pitcher Aidan Anderson with four runs in the first inning but after Hill made the call for Peyton McLemore out of the bullpen with two out in the frame, the Blue Jays were held scoreless the rest of the way.
McLemore (1-0) got the win after he threw a season-high 4 1/3 innings, did not allow a run, gave up four hits and struck out five.
“McLemore changed the game for us and allowed our offense to get going,” said Hill.
McNeese was held hitless through the first two innings before Jake Cochran struck out to lead off the third but reached on a wild pitch on the strike three swining.
Will Fox then hit a one-out single for the first hit of the game and after Robbie Podorsky popped out, Ricky Ramirez, Jr. was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring up Gallier, who entered the game on a 2-for-31 slump over the previous nine games.
Gallier then took an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for his second grand slam of the season and tying the game 4-4. It was his 12th long ball of the year.
Three hits in the third were followed by 10 more hits the remaining six innings as the Cowboys posted 13 base knocks in the game.
Shane Selman became just the fifth player in TD Ameritrade Park history to hit multiple home runs in the same game – a lead-off solo shot in the fifth to put McNeese up 7-4, then another solo homer in the seventh that made it 9-4. Those were his 12th and 13th home runs of the season.
In the sixth, Podorsky blasted his fifth home run of the season, giving McNeese four in the game and tying a second TD Ameritrade Park record for most homers hit in a game.
Selman ended the day 3-for-5 at the plate while Podorsky (2-for-5), Fox (2-for-4) and Dustin Duhon (2-for-5) all had multiple hits. Duhon belted two doubles as McNeese had six extra base hits on the afternoon.
The McNeese bullpen of McLemore, Bryan King, Gavin Sonnier and Collin Kober did not allow a run in 8 1/3 innings of action and just five hits, one walk and nine strike outs.
“Creighton is a good team and will be playing for a league championship next week,” said Hill. “It was good to see us play well on a big stage on the road.”
The Blue Jays finished with seven hits as starting pitcher Keith Rogalla (2-4) took the loss by allowing eight runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
After Tuesday’s mid-week game, the Cowboys will host Lamar in the final three-game league series of the regular season with a conference championship well in sight.