LAKE CHARLES – McNeese returns to Joe Miller Ball Park against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this weekend for its first home Southland Conference series since the middle of April.
The Cowboys (30-13, 19-5 SLC) hold a one-game lead over Sam Houston State in the loss column for first place in the standings. The Bearkats (15-6) will visit Southeastern Louisiana (15-9) this weekend.
Friday night’s game will carry a 6 o’clock first pitch followed by 3 on Saturday and Sunday at 1. All three games will broadcast live on the McNeese Radio Network (KEZM 1310 AM, McNeeseSports.com, KEZMonline.com).
“It’s great to be back home,” said head coach Justin Hill who became just the second McNeese baseball coach in school history to guide his team to four consecutive 30-win seasons after the Cowboys downed LSU-Alexandria on Tuesday. “It’s been a busy week for the guys. We had the game on Tuesday plus finals are going on this week so we kinda kept it light on them on practices.
“We know what we have to do.”
The Cowboys are currently ranked No. 28 in the latest RPI poll which is a big factor in selecting at-large teams into the NCAA Tournament.
As of May 3, McNeese is predicted to be a No. 2 seed by Baseball America at the Baton Rouge Regional while D1Baseball.com has the Cowboys as a No. 3 seed in the same regional.
This weekend against the Islanders will be the first time since 2013 the two teams will face-off in a league series, the last season before Hill arrived in 2014. In that season, AMCC swept the Cowboys in three games in Corpus Christi.
The Islanders (15-30, 7-14) have not played a series in Lake Charles since 2010 when the Cowboys swept them in three games.
Corpus did play a single game at Joe Miller Ball Park in 2015 with the Cowboys winning by an 8-0 score, and the two squared off in the 2014 SLC Tournament when McNeese winning by a 7-5 count.
Statistically, McNeese is ranked second in the league in batting with a .308 average, right behind Sam Houston State who is hitting .309. The Cowboys lead the league in slugging (.481), on-base percentage (.403), runs scored (331), runs batted in (304), doubles (92), home runs (47), total bases (715), and saves (14) and is tied for the league lead with 30 total wins.
Individually, left fielder Shane Selman has taken over the top spot on the team in hitting with a .359 average to go along with 11 home runs, tying him with third baseman Matt Gallier. Selman has also knocked in 48 runs to top the team.
Gallier is hitting .348 with 11 homers and 42 RBI while Joe Provenzano is batting .342 with five home runs and 43 RBI.
McNeese will stick with its regular Friday-Saturday starting pitchers of Austin Sanders and Rhett Deaton while holding off on naming a starter for Sunday.
Sanders has posted a 5-2 record on the season with a 3.60 ERA in 11 starts while Deaton is 7-1 on the year with a 3.29 ERA, also in 11 starts.
The Islanders are hitting .273 as a team and are led by Dawson Yates’ .320 average.
Corpus is expected to start RHP Dustin Lacaze (2-2, 5.62 ERA) on Friday but have not determined starting pitchers on Saturday or Sunday.
KEEP AN EYE ON:
• Center fielder Robbie Podorsky has 33 stolen bases on the season. He needs two more to tie and three to break the single-season school record of 35 held by Jason Alleman and Jace Peterson.
• LF Shane Selman has hit a home run in five of his last nine games.
• McNeese is 19-1 at home this season and 9-0 in SLC home games.
• Head coach Justin Hill has 123 career wins, all at McNeese, ranking him third on the all-time coaching wins list behind Tony Robichaux (263) and Triny Rivera (141).
• OF/DH Nate Fisbeck returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the previous month with a knee injury.