Chase Keeton makes best of first McNeese start in win over Nicholls

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LAKE CHARLES – McNeese starting pitcher Grant Rogers was great as usual but the star of the game was first-time starter and first baseman Chase Keeton who stole the show with his performance in McNeese’s 8-3 win over Nicholls to begin Southland Conference baseball play.

Keeton, a junior transfer from Murray State Community College and making just his second appearance on the season, belted a two-run home run in his first at-bat in the third inning then followed that up with an RBI triple in the fifth to help power an 11-hit, three home run attack by the Cowboys (16-6, 1-0).

Rogers, who improved to 6-0 on the season and extended his school record to winning in his first six starts of the season, allowed three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks, but was dominant through the first five innings where he only allowed one hit and no runs by the Colonels (13-11, 0-1).

McNeese got a first-inning solo home run by Brad Burckel to put the Cowboys up 1-0. Then in the third, Keeton hit his first homer as a Cowboy in just his second at-bat of the season to make it 3-0.

The Cowboys increased the lead to 6-0 with a three-spot in the fifth behind a lead-off homer from Taylor Darden, Keeton’s RBI triple then a Josh Leslie double.

Nicholls got on the board with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to cut the gap to 6-3 but McNeese added two runs in the bottom of the inning when Cooper Hext led things off with a triple then scored on a Leslie single to make it 7-3. Leslie then made it 8-3 after he scored on an Andruw Gonzales single.

Reliever Ty Abraham shut the door on the Colonels in the final two innings, allowing just two hits with two strikeouts.

The series will continue on Saturday with the first pitch moved up to a 2 p.m. start.

• 1B Chase Keeton made his first start and hit a home run and triple in his first two at-bats.
• Grant Rogers retired 14 straight batters from the first inning until the sixth.
• Rogers is the first pitcher in the nation to win his sixth game of the season.
• SS Josh Leslie added two RBIs to his season total, giving him 31 on the year.
• Leslie’s fifth-inning double was his 11th on the season.
• DH Tré Obregon’s fourth-inning double extended his reached base streak to 19 consecutive games and extended his hitting streak to seven straight.
• Leslie has reached base in 15 consecutive games.
• McNeese is 12-0 on the season when leading after six innings.

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