SFA Rallies To Clinch Series vs McNeese
April 14, 2013
LAKE CHARLES, La. - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks scored three runs in the top of the sixth and held McNeese State scoreless for the final four frames to earn a 5-3 win in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Cowboy Diamond.
The win puts SFA (18-17, 8-4 SLC) in part of a four-way tie atop the Southland Conference after four league weekends, while there are four more teams including McNeese State (19-15, 6-6 SLC) just two games back.
Hunter Dozier went 3-for-4 with his 10th home run of the year and was just a triple shy of the cycle, and five `Jacks finished with an RBI as part of a 10-hit offensive effort. Max Lamantia and Ricardo Sanchez each had a pair of hits; meanwhile, the Cowboys got two-hit efforts from five hitters, but left 11 runners on base on the afternoon.
Justin Choate put together his fifth consecutive solid start, allowing three runs - two earned - in 6.0 innings with a pair of strikeouts and no walks to even his record at 2-2 with the win. Cass Ingvardsen followed with a pair of scoreless relief innings to set things up for Brett Higginbotham, who got a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save of the year.
The Cowboys got a solid start from Trey McGee, but the lefty allowed all three runs in the deciding sixth inning and five runs on the day to go with three strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work in falling to 2-3 on the season.
Dozier opened up the scoring with a sky-high solo home run with two outs in the top of the first, his 10th long ball of the season. One inning later SFA pushed its early lead to 2-0 on an RBI ground out from Jackson Hood, scoring Mackenzie Handel who opened the game with a walk.
But the early lead was short-lived as the Cowboys busted through with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the second inning on a two-run single from Andrew Guillotte after a bloop single, error and bunt single had the bases loaded with no outs.
Choate worked out of trouble in third and fourth, but was not so fortunate in the fifth as a leadoff double from Jackson Gooch started things off for the Cowboys, and came in to score on a sacrifice fly from Taylor Drake to give the Cowboys a 3-2 lead after five innings of play.
But that Cowboy lead lasted just two batters into the SFA half of the sixth after a leadoff double from Dozier opened the inning and an RBI double from Freddy Villalobos off the left-center field wall scored him to tie it at 3-3. Max Lamantia then put the `Jacks in front 4-3 one pitch later as he launched an RBI triple to the right-center field wall to score Villalobos. Three batters later Olson added to the lead with a sacrifice fly that plated Lamantia.
Choate followed with a shutdown sixth inning before handing it over to the bullpen after a leadoff single by Gooch in the bottom of the seventh. Ingvardsen came on and retired Michael Sullivan before a single from Drake put runners on the corners with the go-ahead run at the plate; however, Matt Wiliams lined a shot right to Villalobos at second base who doubled off Drake at first base to end the last true Cowboy threat.
The righty worked around a two-out walk in the eighth before Higginbotham entered in the ninth with a two-run lead. He allowed a leadoff single to Chayse Marion, but proceeded to get the next three hitters, including punch outs of Gooch and Drake to close out the game.
SFA will next travel to Dallas Baptist for a Tuesday meeting with the Patriots at Horner Field before returning to Nacogdoches for a three-game set against Southeastern Louisiana next weekend.