NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Lumberjacks got a five-run fifth inning and a complete-game effort from starter Chase Greening in snapping a three-game losing streak with a 7-0 win over McNeese State in the series opener of a three-game set on Friday at Jaycees Field.
The junior right-hander allowed 12 hits on the afternoon, but none for extra bases and did not allow a Cowboy (13-18, 8-8 SLC) runner as far as third base until the ninth inning in evening his record at 3-3 for SFA (14-19, 7-9 SLC). It was the third complete-game win for SFA this season, with the other two coming from Saturday's probable starter, Cameron Gann, each in weekend series openers.
He struck out three and did not walk a batter, needing just 101 pitches to get the job done. At least one Cowboy hitter reached base in every inning, but Greening was still able to take advantage of errorless defense behind him and a pair of double plays, including one off the bat of Reny Weber to end the game in the ninth.
Trey Brown took the loss for the Cowboys, falling to 1-5 after allowing six runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings.
Still, Greening did not do it alone, but it took the SFA offense a while to get going, only picking up two hits in the first four innings before sending nine men to the plate in a five-run fifth inning that broke the game open. In all, the `Jacks picked up 13 hits on the day, led by three singles from third baseman Bryce Cummings.
Hunter Dozier added two hits and an RBI, with his first-inning double accounting for the only extra-base hit for either squad on the day. Three other `Jacks finished with a pair of hits apiece, including Freddy Villalobos who had a pair of RBI to go along with his two singles.
Both pitchers essentially breezed through the lineups in the first four innings before Brown ran into trouble in the fifth. Rory Myers delivered a one-out single to spark the SFA rally and quickly moved to third when Cummings singled to right field on a perfectly executed hit-and-run on the first pitch. After Zach Benson walked to load the bases, Rene' Moreda put SFA up 1-0 with a drag-bunt RBI down the first-base line to score Myers.
Villalobos then plated two more with the first of his two singles on the day, and after moving up to second base on a throw to the plate, Dozier shot a single to right field to drive in the fourth Lumberjack run. Dozier then swiped second and scored himself on a single to left by Jarid Scarafiotti, giving the `Jacks to give Greening a 5-0 cushion to work with.
Greening worked around a leadoff single in the sixth before getting another run on the board in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single from Benson. He then coaxed a double play from Skylar Barrentine in the seventh, and got a strikeout and a pop up in the eighth to work around a one-out single from Seth Granger, who led the Cowboys with a 3-for-4 afternoon.
The `Jacks had a chance to pour it on in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with no outs for the top of the lineup, but they could only get a single run as pinch hitter Chris Hernandez scored the seventh SFA run of the day on a double-play grounder.
Greening then closed it out in the ninth, putting runners on the corners with one out before getting a tailor-made grounder from Weber that closed out the game when the `Jacks were able to turn two.
SFA will take on the Cowboys again on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the second game of the series. Gann is scheduled to get the start for the `Jacks, opposite of Cowboy righty Blake Ware.