LAKE CHARLES – Shane Selman’s three-run, seventh inning home run capped off an offensive onslaught over a three-inning span that saw McNeese rally from a 6-0 deficit through four innings to a 9-7 win over New Orleans on Saturday afternoon and completing a three-game Southland Conference series sweep.
Facing a hitter’s count at 2-and-0, Selman took a fastball from UNO pitcher Raphael Martinez, the sixth of seven Privateer hurlers to hit the mound, over the left field wall to give McNeese a 9-6 lead.
“He battled at the plate today,” said head coach Justin Hill whose Cowboys, for the first time in school history, notched their fifth SLC series sweep in a single-season. “Hitting is kind of contagious. When we got it going in the fifth inning, the momentum started to roll.”
McNeese (26-9, 16-2 SLC) was held to one hit through four innings off UNO starter Riley Hodge. And after the Privateers scored three runs in both the third and fourth innings to go up 6-0, the Cowboy bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth.
Over the next three innings, McNeese slapped eight of the team’s nine hits and scored all nine runs.
Jake Cochran started things off in the fifth by leading off with a single. Mitchell Rogers followed with a double to move Cochran to third and Will Fox knocked them both in with a single to put the Cowboys on the board at 6-2.
After a Robbie Podorsky walk and Dustin Duhon two-strike sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, Ricky Ramirez, Jr. smacked a 2-run single to cut the deficit to 6-4 while extending his streak to 29 consecutive games with reaching base.
In the sixth inning, UNO (19-18, 8-10) appeared ripe to make a rally by loading the bases with one out, but McNeese reliever Trent Fontenot, who hit and walked his first two batters faced to load the bags, got the next two batters to strike out swinging and ending the treat.
McNeese added two runs in the sixth inning on a two-run single by Fox after Cochran led off the inning with a single followed by a double by Rogers, his second of the game, and tying the score at 6-6.
“The bottom of our order was really good today at the plate,” said Hill of the 7-8-9 hole hitters that combined to go 6-for-11 at the plate with a walk, five runs scored and four runs batted in.
In the seventh, Matt Gallier and Joe Provenzano reached on back-to-back one-out walks while led to Selman’s plate appearance where he pelted his seventh home run of the season and the sixth in league play.
UNO added a run in the eighth to cut McNeese’s lead to 9-7 then Collin Kober came in to earn his eighth save of the season after sitting the Privateers down in order in the ninth.
Cowboys’ starting pitcher Aidan Anderson went three innings for the Cowboys and gave up three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. He was lifted for Peyton McLemore to start the fourth then Bryan King entered to throw two scoreless innings while striking out three.
Fontenot (2-1) got the win for McNeese in relief work while UNO relief pitcher Jarred Taylor (0-2) took the loss after allowing the runs that put McNeese ahead.
The win moved the Cowboys into sole possession of first place in the conference standings after Sam Houston State dropped its Saturday game to Stephen F. Austin.
McNeese will start an 8-game, two-week road trek on Tuesday when it visits Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. while UNO next plays Friday in Austin to start a three-game series with the University of Texas at 7 p.m.