Golden arm, Rogers extends Cowboys’ season

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

By Jim Gazzolo

Special to the American Press

Justin Hill reached another milestone, and his Cowboys lived to play another day.

Make that two.

Behind the right arm of ace Grant Rogers, McNeese State moved into the double-elimination portion of the Southland Conference Tournament Tuesday night.

Along the way, Rogers set a single-season school record for victories while Hill picked up his 300th career win. All in all, the Cowboys 4-0 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi made for a pretty good opener for McNeese.

“It is nice, but the story of the day is Grant Rogers,” Hill said. “Grant did what Grant does.”

Rogers (12-1) threw his fourth complete game of the season and first shutout. He threw 107 pitches in the 1-hour, 59-minute gem. Working quickly as always, Rogers was on the mound for 27:38 while allowing seven hits.

Four of those came off the bat of Tre Jones.

Rogers struck out five and walked nobody while allowing two Islanders (24-31) to reach second base.

“I just wanted to give my teammates a chance to win,” Rogers said. “I didn’t want it to end.”

The Cowboys (34-21) will play top-seeded Nicholls State at 6 p.m. today at Joe Miller Ballpark. The teams split four games during the regular season.

The Cowboys scored all the runs they needed in the first on one swing. Tré Obregon blasted a two-run homer over the fence in right, scoring Brad Burckel who had reached on a bunt single.

The home run was Burckel’s fifth of the season and came off Islanders starter and losing pitcher Matthew Watson (6-5).

McNeese made it 4-0 in the sixth on run-scoring doubles from Josh Leslie and Braley Hollins. That was more than enough for Rogers.

“It was huge to get the lead,” Obregon said. “You have to give credit to Brad for setting that inning up.”

Rogers said he could go Friday if needed but Hill said he is targeting a Saturday return.

“I will be ready to go when they ask me,” Rogers said.

The Cowboys will start either Ty Abraham or Bryson Hudgens today. Either way, they will have to go the long way to win the title.

“We are prepared for whatever happens and whatever it takes,” Obregon said. “We have a lot of guys who have been through this and we are ready.”

In today’s other games, second-seeded Incarnate Word will take on No. 5 Northwestern State at 11 a.m while No. 3 Lamar will play No. 4 New Orleans at 2:30 p.m.