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Cajuns go 2-1 in weekend series versus Appalachian State, 11-14 overall

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Senior Kole McKinnon swings at the ball as the Ragin' Cajuns take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Friday, Mar. 22, 2019.

The Louisiana baseball team completed their first home conference series of the season with disappointing finishes against Appalachian State.

A sweep of the Mountaineers would get Louisiana their first winning record of the season after starting 1-7, but the first game of the series was still full of disappointment for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

With usual ace Gunner Leger missing the start due to a scheduled rest, Jacob Schultz was called upon to be the Friday night starter. He responded well to the call, only giving up one run on one hit in his first five innings pitched. Going into the sixth inning, Schultz had retired 13 straight Mountaineer hitters.

The Louisiana offense backed up Schultz’ quality start with a few runs in the first five innings. They answered App State’s run in the first inning with two of their own, and then a home run by Todd Lott in the third inning and a home run by Hayden Cantrelle in the fifth gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-1 lead going into the sixth.

The Mountaineers picked up momentum in the sixth by picking up a pair of two-out RBI’s to cut into the Louisiana lead. Schultz failed to record the third out in the sixth after having such a great start, and the Ragin’ Cajuns moved onto the bullpen.

Louisiana scored another run in the bottom of the sixth, but left a man on third base. Their lead was still extended to 5-3 going into the seventh. A triple brought in a run for App State, and Michael Leaumont stopped the threat with two strikeouts with Mountaineers on second and third.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were barely clinging onto a 5-4 lead going into the final two innings. App State brought in another run in the eighth, and officially tied the game after trailing since the bottom of the first.

The Mountaineers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth with one out, and scored one run after the Ragin’ Cajuns defense couldn’t turn a double-play. The offense failed to get a hit in the final three innings and the Mountaineers completed the comeback to win the first game of the series 6-5.

Game two of the series was defined by solid pitching and a single crazy half-inning.

For the second straight day, App State scored one run in the top of the first inning and took an early lead.

After recording only two hits in the first four innings, Louisiana finally scored on a two-out RBI by Cantrelle. The Mountaineers retook the lead on a double in the sixth and the two teams went into the bottom of the sixth with a 2-1 score line.

The Ragin’ Cajuns tied the game on a sacrifice fly, and emptied the bases with two outs. Louisiana proceeded to draw four straight walks to take the a 3-2 lead with the bases loaded. Cantrelle scored two more runs on a clutch single, a balk scored another run, and another two-out hit by Brennan Breaux scored Cantrelle. By the time the two-out rally was finished, the Ragin’ Cajuns had scored six runs to take a 7-2 lead.

App State scored two more runs late in the game, but the lead built from the rally in the sixth inning was too much to overcome, and Louisiana won 7-4.

Starting pitcher Austin Perrin recorded his second win of the season by pitching six-and-one-third innings and giving up three runs on nine hits.

The win for Louisiana in game two set up a chance to win their second straight series to start conference play in game three.

Ragin’ Cajuns starter Dalton Horton was pulled after only recording two outs in the first inning, giving up two runs in the process. App State scored in the first inning of every game in the series.

The Mountaineers took an early 2-0 lead, but Louisiana answered in the third inning, tying the game on a sacrifice fly RBI by Todd Lott and a two-out RBI-single by Handsome Monica.

The Ragin’ Cajuns took their first lead of the game with a two-run fifth inning, but App State answered with one run in the sixth, scoring a run for the third straight game in that inning.

Orynn Veillon hit his sixth home run of the season to regain the two-run lead, and Louisiana went into the final three innings with a 5-3 lead, just like they did in game one.

And, just like game one, the Mountaineers made a big comeback in the final three innings.

App State scored one run in the seventh inning to make it a 5-4 game, left one on in a scoreless eighth, and then the ninth inning became a nightmare for Louisiana.

A leadoff walk was followed by a bad decision by catcher Kole McKinnon. Instead of taking the out at first on a bunt, McKinnon tried to go to second and didn’t get the out. Then an error on the throw for the next bunt loaded the bases with no outs.

A single brought in two runs and the Mountaineers took their first lead since the first inning. Brandon Young came on and recorded three outs including two strikeouts to leave the bases loaded in the inning, but the damage had already been done.

Louisiana had one final chance down 6-5 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs, Breaux got hit by a pitch, and Lott drilled a single to put runners at first and third, but a strikeout by Monica finished the game.

The Ragin’ Cajuns left five men on base in the last three innings of the game.

“We walked too many people today,” Coach Robichaux said. “We had every chance to win. They gave us nine freebases and we only scored five runs off it.”

The series was one to forget for Louisiana. Two blown leads took the Ragin’ Cajuns opportunity to sweep their opponent and get above .500 for the first time this year and instead gave them their first conference series loss of the season.

Next up, the Ragin’ Cajuns travel to play Troy in their third conference series of the season after hosting Tulane on Tuesday.

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