McNeese opens Nashville Regional play Friday against Indiana State

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McNeese baseball

2019 NCAA Baseball Nashville Regional
Who: #3 McNeese (35-24) vs. #2 Indiana State (41-16)
When: 12 p.m. Friday
Where: Hawkins Field, Vanderbilt University
TV: ESPN3 or WatchESPN app

NASHVILLE – McNeese baseball gained national attention on Wednesday for its unique travel attire of wearing cowboy hats on the plane ride from Lake Charles.

The Cowboys will look to corral that attention further when they open up play in the 2019 NCAA Baseball Nashville Regional here Friday at noon against No. 2 seed Indiana State at Vanderbilt’s Hawkins Field.

The game will broadcast live on ESPN3 or on the WatchESPN mobile app.

McNeese (35-24) is the No. 3 seed and swept through the Southland Conference Tournament to earn the program’s fifth regional appearance in school history. The Sycamores (41-16) won the Missouri Valley tourney to make their 10th appearance in the postseason.

“This is a different venue,” said head coach Justin Hill about Hawkins Field. “There are some tight quarters with a big green wall in left field. This is a great venue for a championship.”

The Cowboys last played in the postseason in 2003 but for Hill, this will be his fourth regional as a coach, the first as a head coach.

“I’ve been there with three different guys (head coaches),” said Hill. “Every single one of them I’ve heard from this week. It’s one of those things where you remember what they’ve done and how they’ve done it and what got you there.

“The thing is, it doesn’t change anything. It’s a nine-inning baseball game and you have to get three outs.”

Hill will stick with the hot arm of Aidan Anderson to start things off for the Cowboys on the mound on Friday. Anderson (7-6, 2.97 ERA) was named the SLC tournament MVP after he went 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA in 12.2 innings pitched.

The senior from Beaumont tossed his first career complete game win a win in the opener over Incarnate Word, then entered the championship game against Central Arkansas to get the win.

“We knew on Tuesday he was filling good after the decent workload over the weekend,” said Hill about Anderson. “He’s ready to go. I think that’s our best option to go and try to get into the winner’s bracket.”

“It’s exciting,” said Anderson. “We’re ready for game one. Everybody is ready to get the game started.

“It doesn’t matter what game or what role they want met to pitch, Coach Hill and Coach Fox have done a really good job of preparing everybody. I like to look at every team with respect. Everybody at this level is a good team with good hitting and defense.”

Offensively, McNeese is hitting .275 as a team and is led by Jake Dickerson’s .317 batting average while Clayton Rasbeary is batting .311 and Nate Fisbeck at .304. Fisbeck tops the team with 12 home runs while Rasbeary and Carson Maxwell each have 10 dingers.

Indiana State has won four straight games and seven of its last 10, and just this week, broke into the national polls at No. 23 in both the D1Baseball.com and Perfect Game polls while sitting at No. 25 in the Baseball America and 30th in the Collegiate Baseball rankings.

The Sycamores placed third in the final MVC standings and are hitting .267 as a team, led by second baseman Jarrod Watkins with a .312 batting average.

“They’re a good team,” said Hill about Indiana State. “Anytime you’re 41-16, you had a really good season. It’s hard enough to win a college baseball game and anytime you do that 41 times and go through their conference season, you’re a good team.

“They’re also an older group. I don’t thing we’re going to throw anything at them that we haven’t seen and I don’t thing they’re going to throw anything at us that we haven’t seen.

“I expect it to be a really good college baseball game.”

Pitching is an area where the Sycamores excelled during the regular season, ranking 20th in the nation with a 3.60 team ERA.

Left-handed pitcher Triston Polley (7-1, 2.53) will get the start against the Cowboys on Friday. The senior has accumulated a 17-5 career record as a Sycamore and has thrown three complete games on the season to rank him 13th in the nation.

“This is almost like an early part of the season, or midweek type game, where you only get one shot at them,” said Hill. “Even though there are some similarities, who knows what can happen. The sun might get in somebody’s eyes or somebody might do something they haven’t done all year like hit a homer, or a guy has a bad first inning.

“There’s all kind of stuff that can happen in the postseason.”

The winner of this game will play the winner of the Vanderbilt/Ohio State game at 6 p.m. on Saturday while the losers of each game will play an elimination game at noon.

WORTH NOTING:
• All four teams in the Nashville Regional won their respective conference tournaments.
• McNeese and Indiana State have faced off several times in their history, most recently in the 2004 Lake Area Classic in Lake Charles.
• Head coach Justin Hill has recorded 190 career wins and is tied for second all-time with Hubert Boales.
• With 49 doubles, Shane Selman needs one more to move into sole possession of third on the school’s all-time double’s list; Selman has 409 career total bases and needs 8 more to match the career record of 417 held by Charlie Kingrey; and with 38 career home runs, he’s 5 away from tying the career mark and needs two to match Lee Orr for second all-time.
• McNeese is 4-1 on the season when Aidan Anderson starts on the mound.
• The Cowboys are 2-8 all-time in the NCAA Regionals.
• Over the last five games, McNeese’s pitching staff is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA while starters in that span are 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA.

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