Duplechain closes door on UIW to secure 10-6 Cowboys’ win

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LAKE CHARLES – McNeese relief pitcher Isaac Duplechain was thrust into a critical situation late in the game against Incarnate Word on Friday night, but the redshirt freshman and Barbe High product didn’t bat an eye as he retired six straight batters, four by strike outs, to preserve a 10-6 McNeese win in the first game of a Southland Conference weekend series.

With runners on first and second and no outs in the top of the eighth, Duplechain relieved Ty Abraham and got the next three batters out to get out of the jam. He then struck out all three outs in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season as the Cowboys improved to 15-14 overall and 9-7 in league play.

“I felt good,” said Duplechain. “My mindset was to go in there and get the job done. I had to throw it with conviction and make good pitches.”

UIW (12-12, 8-9) jumped on top early with two runs off Cowboy starter Bryson Hudgens who was making just his third appearance on the season after returning from a injury. But Hudgens settled in and lasted to the top of the fifth before be replaced by Abraham after giving up a two-out, three-run home run that cut the Cowboys’ lead to 8-5 at the time.

“Once he (Hudgens) got into the zone he was fine,” said head coach Justin Hill. “The first inning is always the toughest as a starter.”

Abraham (2-0) picked up the win in relief fashion after throwing 2 1/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits.

Meanwhile on offense, the Cowboys blasted out 13 hits with six of those going for extra bases. Shortstop Reid Bourque finished the day 3 for 5 at the plate with two runs batted in and a run scored. Left fielder Julian Gonzales had a triple and double on the day and Clayton Rasbeary added two hits. All nine starters in the lineup had at least one hit.

The Cowboys opened up an 8-2 lead with a six-run third inning that was sparked by four doubles in the frame.

Gonzales and Bourque hit back-to-back one out RBI doubles to give the Cowboys a 4-2 lead at the time. Two batters later, Payton Harden hit a two-run double while Rasbeary followed with a RBI double to make it an 8-2 game.

UIW rallied with four runs in the fifth inning. The big hit in the frame came off a three-run home run by Taylor Darden to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 8-6. Following that hit, McNeese starting pitcher Hudgens was replaced by Abraham who got the Cowboys out of the inning.

The Cardinals threatened with runners in the sixth and seventh innings but a couple of good defensive plays by Bourque at shortstop and Peyton Johnson at third base kept UIW from gaining on the board.

Fisbeck, who reached base four times, added to the lead with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 10-6 lead for the Cowboys.

UIW pushed the envelope in the eighth inning after the first two batters walked. Duplechain was brought in to relieve Abraham and got the next three batters out in order to leave the runners stranded. He then struck out the side in the ninth to close out the game.

The series will continue on Saturday with a double-header beginning at 2 p.m.

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