Walks hurt ‘Jacks, but SFA remains in tie for second place

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Lumberjacks held a 4-0 lead through four innings of play and looked to be on their way to their first series sweep in over a month, but the McNeese State offense erupted for 13 runs in the next three innings to run away with a 15-7 win in the series finale.

It was a promising start for SFA (26-12, 13-7 Southland) as a Garrett Smith RBI single in the second inning and a three-run homer from Michael Haynes in the fourth put the 'Jacks out in front, but SFA pitchers issued a season-high 11 walks in helping the Cowboys (21-18, 11-10 Southland) push across their 15 runs – the most runs allowed by an SFA opponent this season.

The 'Jacks, however, did manage to remain in a tie for second despite the loss, staying just 1.5 games back of Texas State.

Justin Braddock kept the Cowboys off the scoreboard in the first four innings before surrendering five runs in the fifth and eventually dropping his record to 4-3. Six relievers followed him as the SFA pitching staff was forced to work with runners on base for the majority of the afternoon, allowing the leadoff man to reach in six of the game's nine innings.

Jaden Dillon ran his record to 5-0 as the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, but still gave up six runs in just five innings, including allowing both SFA home runs on the day.

After SFA had jumped out in front 4-0, McNeese batted around in its half of the fifth and pushed across five runs on five hits to take a 5-4 lead. Lee Orr started the rally with a leadoff home run and Daniel Zaunbrecher followed with a double down the left field line; however, Braddock responded by getting a strikeout and a fly ball around an RBI single from Andy Riche', keeping the lead at 4-2. But After Steven Irvine's RBI single one batter later drew McNeese to within one, Seth Granger took the first pitch he saw and mashed it off the center field fence for a two-run triple that gave McNeese the lead it would not relinquish.

A sacrifice fly from Zaunbrecher and another RBI hit from Riche' tacked on a pair of runs for the Cowboys in the sixth, but Darren Crabtree got the 'Jacks back to within a run in the bottom of the frame with a two-run homer that cut the lead to 7-6.

But the SFA pitching staff could not maintain the momentum as the Cowboys erupted again for six runs on just three hits in its half of the seventh to break the game open and essentially put it away.

McNeese added another pair of runs on a two-run homer from Irvine in the top of the ninth and Bobby Loveless picked up an RBI as well in SFA's half of the final inning to round out the scoring.

SFA next travels to Little Rock, Ark., for its second single game at UALR of the year on Tuesday before going to Huntsville to open a three-game set with Sam Houston beginning Friday at Don Sanders Stadium.