Going the distance, Rogers notches eighth victory

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

By Jim Gazzolo

Special to the American Press

Grant Rogers wanted to finish what he started, no matter how many pitches it took.

So it was no surprise when the McNeese State ace went back out to the mound for the ninth inning Friday night.

Five batters later, Rogers ended his second complete game of the season by striking out Jake Johnson for an 8-3 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Rogers improved to 8-0 despite being forced to throw a career-high 124 pitches against the Islanders in the first game of a Southland Conference doubleheader at Joe Miller Ballpark.

The Islanders rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth in the second game for a 5-3 victory, gaining a split.

Diego Johnson’s two-run double in the ninth proved to be the difference and ruined a good start by McNeese’s Ty Abraham, who allowed one run on three hits over six innings.

In the opener, Rogers wasn’t at his best, allowing three runs on seven hits, but he was good enough to save the bullpen for the rest of the series.

“It’s huge to be able to rest the bullpen,” Rogers said. “They can be ready to come in and do their thing.”

Rogers was set to go Thursday, even warming up before rain washed the night away. He said there was no problem despite the day delay.

“I just know when it’s time I was ready to go,” he said. “And there was no doubt I was going to pitch today.”

Rogers struck out six and walked no one but did face a season-high 35 batters.

“I was just trying to fill up the zone,” Rogers said.

Josh Leslie and Payton Harden each had two hits for McNeese (19-11, 3-5) with Brad Burckel reaching base four times. Leslie and Cooper Hext each drove in two runs.

Hext did his work in the first on a two-run double. Leslie drove his runs in on a triple in the eighth.

Matthew Watson (2-3) took the loss.

In the second game, Kyle Dickie (1-0) earned the win while Derrick Cherry (3-2) took the loss.

McNeese had a chance to grab the lead in the eighth of Game 2 but Tré Obregon’s blast into the parking lot with two runners on base in a 2-2 tie curved foul.

The Cowboys again had a chance in the ninth when they loaded the bases with nobody out. However, they managed one run.

The teams will finish the series at 1 p.m. today. McNeese will go with Burrell Jones (2-0, 1.88 ERA). The right-hander will be making his third start of the season.