April 22, 2011
LAKE CHARLES, La. - The Lumberjacks staked themselves to an 8-0 lead in the first four innings and withstood a furious McNeese State rally in the eighth inning to hang on for an 8-6 win over the Cowboys on Friday night at Cowboy Diamond, evening the series and staying in a tie for first place atop the Southland Conference.
A six-run third inning was highlighted by a grand slam from freshman Hunter Dozier, and the `Jacks (27-12, 14-6 SLC) needed all the runs they could get as McNeese State (20-21, 9-11 SLC) reliever Ryan Sampere retired the last 15 SFA hitters of the game to give the Cowboy offense a chance to make a comeback.
But Jason West came on to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and then toss a perfect ninth for his seventh save, making a winner of junior Chase Wier who was making his first career start after 14 bullpen appearances to open the year. Wier needed 98 pitches to navigate through 5.1 innings, and allowed just two hits in his first five frames, working around five walks on the evening to go to 2-1 on the year.
Matt Click took the loss for the Cowboys, allowing seven runs in just 2.1 innings to fall to 3-5 on the year.
The `Jacks only picked up eight hits on the night with Dozier finishing 2-for-4 with four RBI, with his grand slam accounting for all four of his RBI. It was his third homer in his last three games and the first grand slam of the year for the `Jacks. Jarid Scarafiotti finished 3-for-5 on the night too, with a pair of RBI singles.
That big hit by Dozier proved to be huge as SFA mustered just two hits off of Sampere in the final 6.2 innings of play, but it was a long eighth inning where the `Jacks showed their muster to hold off the Cowboys. McNeese entered the inning down 8-2, but sent 10 hitters to the plate to cut the lead to 8-6.
But the big play of the inning came with the score 8-5 when Garrett Smith threw a strike to home plate on a potential RBI single by Blake Ellender in center field to get a force out at the plate for the second out of the inning. Then, after a bases-loaded walk to Jace Peterson cut the lead to 8-6, West fanned Cowboy slugger Lee Orr on three straight sliders to end the rally.
Early on it was all SFA as the `Jacks took an early lead off of Click on a two-out RBI double from Jackson Hood in the top of the first. Then, after a scoreless second, the `Jacks pounced on Click again for six more. Both Bryson Myles and Garrett Smith reached base to open the frame, with Myles coming home to score the first run of the inning on a throwing error on a successful double steal. Two batters later Scarafiotti dumped a single into right field to score another, and two batters later, after a walk to Hood loaded the bases, Dozier hammered the first pitch of his at-bat over the left-center field wall for the grand slam that broke the game open.
Meanwhile, Wier did his part in keeping the Cowboys off the board for the first three innings before the Cowboys got a run back on an RBI single in the fourth by Shea Daly. He got another run of support on an RBI single from Scarafiotti in the top of the fifth, and allowed just two hits through his first five innings of work before Orr hammered an 0-2 pitch over the center field wall to lead off the sixth.
The `Jacks will look to take its second straight road series on Saturday in the finale with Zack Taylor scheduled to get the ball in the 1:00 p.m. start. Right-hander Dustin Lloyd is scheduled to get the start for McNeese State.