Rogers, McNeese blank AMCC 4-0 to advance in tourney as Hill collects win No. 300

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Grant Rogers

LAKE CHARLES – Grant Rogers lived up to his Pitcher of the Year honor he received on Monday as the team’s ace pitcher silenced A&M-Corpus Christi for a ??-?? win in the win-or-go-home game of the 2023 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Tuesday night.

The victory advanced the sixth-seeded Cowboys (34-21) to the double-elimination bracket where they’ll take on No. 1 Nicholls at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

The win also chalked up career victory No. 300 for head coach Justin Hill, who is only the 10th coach in Southland history to reach the milestone.

McNeese recorded six hits in the game but only needed one, that being a two-run, first inning home run by designated hitter Tré Obregon III that put the Cowboys on top 2-0 early. From there, Rogers received the only runs needed as he cruised for his school-record 12th win of the season, improving to 12-1 on the year. He allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked none while throwing 107 pitches.

The Islanders (24-30) managed just three runners to reach second base and none to third base. A double by Tre Jones to lead off the ninth threatened to break the shutout, but on the ensuing play, a grounder to Taylor Darden at third base caught Jones too far off second and was tagged out. The next batter hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game as Rogers collected his fourth complete game of the season.

The Cowboys added two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to cushion their lead to 4-0. Second baseman Brad Burckel, who finished the night 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored, led off the inning with a single through the left side. Shortstop Josh Leslie hit his league-leading 23rd double of the season to score Burckel and make it 3-2.

Following an Islanders’ pitching change and two batters later, first baseman Braley Hollins doubled in Leslie to increase the lead to 4-0. Hollins finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.

The win marks the fourth straight, day one win for the Cowboys in the league postseason tournament as the Cowboys have now won 13 of their last 15 tournament games.

Wednesday’s second day of the tournament will get underway at 11 a.m. when No. 2 seed UIW battles No. 5 Northwestern State. No. 3 Lamar will play No. 4 New Orleans at 2:30 and No. 6 McNeese will go up against No. 1 Nicholls at 6.

The Cowboys and Colonels went 2-2 against each other this season.

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