LAKE CHARLES – Austin Sanders had a night to remember on Thursday night as the senior left-handed pitcher tossed his first career complete game shutout in helping McNeese blank New Orleans 5-0 to open up a three-game Southland Conference baseball series.
Sanders used 111 pitches to silence the high-powered offensive attack of the Privateers, holding the opponents to just six hits while allowing only one baserunner to get past second base.
“My fastball was working well tonight,” said Sanders who improves to 4-2 on the season after notching his second consecutive win in as many outings. “The defense made some really good plays to keep them off the board.”
“That was really impressive with what he did,” said head coach Justin Hill about Sanders. “To throw a complete game shutout against a really good offensive team, that’s impressive.”
McNeese (24-9, 14-2 SLC) needed just one inning to score runs, that coming in the second frame when the Cowboys crossed five players across home plate.
The first six batters of the inning reached base and a two-run double by catcher Dustin Duhon plated runs four and five for the Cowboys.
Impressively, four of the 10 batters that stepped up to the plate for McNeese fell behind in the count with two strikes, but those four continued to battle by fouling off pitches until they either reached on a walk or got a base hit.
“The at-bat with Dustin I thought was really huge,” said Hill. “We had guys at second and third and they brought the infield in. He was down in the count. He did a great job of moving the baseball and we were able to score two runs.
“I thought we had some other good at-bats throughout the game. I know there were eight zeros up there (on the scoreboard) for us but we had some moments to stretch it out with some good swings, we just hit it right at guys.”
But Sanders’ performance didn’t beg of an offensive onslaught.
He faced the minimum batters through 2 1/3 innings and didn’t allow the first of just two runners to reach second until the fourth inning. He retired 11 straight without a hit from the fourth to the seventh inning, and when the Privateers threatened with runners on the corners with two out in the seventh, he got a stellar fielding play by third baseman Matt Gallier who took a short hop, hard grounder behind the bag then hurled it across the field for the third out.
Duhon had two of the Cowboys’ eight hits on the night while Robbie Podorsky tied a career-high with four stolen bases in the game.
The shutout win was the first in nearly one year to the date for the Cowboys. Last April 17, McNeese defeated Lamar 1-0 for its last blanking.
UNO fell to 19-16 overall and 8-8 in conference play. Privateers’ starting pitcher Shawn Semple (5-2) took the loss after he allowed five runs on six hits in four innings of work.
The series will continue with game two on Saturday evening beginning at 6.