McNeese holds off Cajuns, Morrow goes six scoreless innings

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

By Jim Gazzolo

Special to the American Press

Kainin Morrow, making his first Cowboys start, outpitched Brendan Moody in a battle of local products Tuesday night at Joe Miller Ballpark.

The junior from Sulphur threw six scoreless innings to beat Louisiana-Lafayette and Iowa High product Moody in a battle of Interstate 10 rivals.

McNeese State held on to defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns 5-4 in front of 1,405 in a game that lasted 2 hours, 21 minutes.

“He is a former teammate of mine,” Morrow said of Moody. “It was a cool experience.”

McNeese evened its record at 4-4 after winning for the third time in four games. ULL fell to 6-2.

“They are a really good team,” McNeese head coach Justin Hill said of the Cajuns. “We had just enough to hang on.”

Morrow was the story. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out six but he did walk four and hit a batter.

Still, the junior college transfer got the big outs when he needed them to pick up a win in his first decision.

“It is a relief to get your first win,” Morrow said. “I felt good and my defense was good behind me.”

The Cajuns made things interesting late, scoring a pair of runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Barbe High’s Kyle DeBarge almost tied the score with two out in the ninth, but his ringing line shot hit high off the wall in left, scoring one run.

If it was any higher it would have tied the score.

Christian Vega, who worked the ninth, got Heath Hood to roll out to third to end the game and earn his first save.

After taking a 4-0 lead early, McNeese needed its insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to get the victory. Josh Leslie scored from third on Tré Obregon’s sacrifice fly to center to give the Cowboys a 5-2 lead.

“That run was big,” Hill said. “We played a lot of good baseball.”

Home runs by Brad Burckel and Payton Harden, both solo shots and the first of the year for each, gave McNeese an early 2-0 lead. Burckel’s blast traveled 411 feet over the fence in dead center to leadoff the Cowboys second.

Harden’s homer cleared the scoreboard in left to left in the third. The Cowboys added solo runs in the fourth and fifth to grab a 4-0 lead.

The Cowboys will be back on the road tonight when they travel to Baton Rouge for a game against Southern University. McNeese owns a 22-15-1 record against the Jaguars (4-3) including sweeping two games last season.