McNeese downs UIW to earn spot in Southland Conference title game

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SUGAR LAND, Texas – Junior Jake Dickerson delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning as McNeese defeated Incarnate Word 5-3 Friday night, catapulting the Cowboys into the Southland Conference Championship game for the first time since 2003.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” said head coach Justin Hill, whose team will meet either Southeastern or Central Arkansas for the Southland title at 6 p.m. Saturday. “They never stopped fighting, never gave up, and they weren’t going to allow themselves to lose this game; just really proud.

“Now we play tomorrow night and I’d be lying if I said it’s not a good thing that whoever we play tomorrow will be playing one extra game. Whoever it is we will be ready for a fight.”

McNeese, who will be playing in the title game for the first time in 16 years, will take on the winner of the UCA-Southeastern game, slated for 1 p.m.

It’s also the first time since the 2003 tournament that the Cowboys have won their first three tournament games. McNeese went on to win that tournament and go on to play in the NCAA Tournament – the last appearance the Cowboys in the event.

In a Friday night rematch from a first-round contest between McNeese and UIW, the Cowboys struck first on a Nate Fisbeck solo home run in the first inning, his first of two homers on the night.

In the fourth inning, Incarnate Word scored its first runs of the game and took its first lead after scoring two runs, the first on an RBI double down the third base line and another on a throwing error to home trying to cut down the runner from scoring.

Fisbeck tied things at 2-2 in the sixth inning with his second solo home run of the game but the Cardinals battled back to retake a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth.

In the bottom half of the inning and with two outs, Fisbeck and Clayton Rasbeary drew back-to-back walks then Shane Selman was hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases for Dickerson, who delivered his two-run double to put the Cowboys up 4-3. McNeese added an insurance run on an RBI single by Carson Maxwell to make it a 5-3 game.

Cayne Ueckert, who relieved Will Dion for the last out in the eighth, took the mound again in the ninth to get the last three outs and earn his third victory of the season.


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