The Louisiana baseball team used solid pitching and clutch hitting to bounce back from an early 2-7 start to the season with their first weekend series victory of the season against the Sam Houston State Bearkats.
The favorites in the Southland Conference gave the Ragin’ Cajuns trouble for most of the series, and every game in the three-day weekend stretch was tightly contested.
Brennan Breaux started off the scoring for Louisiana in game one with a two-out RBI-double to give the Ragin’ Cajuns an early 1-0 lead for starting pitcher Conor Angel.
They added onto that lead with another clutch two-out hit, this time by Ben Fitzgerald in the fourth inning with a bases-clearing double, scoring three runs and giving Angel a 4-0 lead going into the fifth inning.
This time, Sam Houston State answered. The Bearkats got their own two-out rally with the bases loaded, and some bounces on balls in the infield did not go Louisiana’s way. Angel came close to getting the outs necessary multiple times but the Bearkats ultimately left the top of the fifth with a tied 4-4 score.
Connor Cooke came on in relief and battled for Louisiana, pitching a fantastic game and giving the Louisiana offense plenty of chances to take a lead. However, each time a Ragin’ Cajun reached the bases, the offense sputtered and could not get the lead runner to score. The game went into extra innings with the same 4-4 scoreline.
In the 11th inning, the Bearkats took a 5-4 lead on a wild pitch, and for the second consecutive inning, the Louisiana offense left a player on second base to end the game.
Cooke picked up the loss in game one of the series, but threw a great game in relief for Angel. He pitched six innings, allowing only two hits and the one earned run while striking out nine batters.
A tough extra-inning loss started the series on a bad note, but game two starting pitcher Brandon Young helped Louisiana get back on track.
Young was the star of the weekend for the Ragin’ Cajuns. In a complete game shutout, Young struck out 11 Bearkats and only gave up three hits. The team needed that entire effort to gift him the victory, however.
Similar to the Bearkats, Louisiana only managed three hits in the game, but a rally in the bottom of the seventh gave them the only run scored in the game by either team.
In the top of the ninth, catcher Sebastian Toro recorded the last out of the game by catching a Bearkat trying to steal second with two outs, and Young earned a hard-fought tough 1-0 victory.
Young’s complete game shutout tied the series at 1-1 going into the final game of the series against Sam Houston State.
Like every other game in the series, the Bearkats and Ragin’ Cajuns had a close battle in the finale.
Louisiana starting pitcher Will Moriarty recorded each of the first nine outs of the contest by strikeouts, but also gave up four runs, including three in the third inning with two outs. The Bearkats took an early 4-1 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out bases-clearing double by Gavin Bourgeois to tie the game at 4-4.
Brandon Talley pitched well in relief for Moriarty. He gave up one run that allowed Sam Houston State to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning, but that was all he would allow.
Louisiana tied the game in the seventh on a wild pitch and then, freshman Julian Brock gave them the clutch two-out RBI hit to give them a 6-5 lead.
Talley held the lead and handed the ball to Jacob Schultz for a four-out save. Talley finished the game with four innings pitched, only allowing one hit and one earned run with four strikeouts.
The Ragin’ Cajuns picked up an insurance run to stretch the lead to 7-5 going into the top of the ninth, and for the second straight game, Toro picked off a Bearkat trying to steal second base with two outs.
This sealed the save for Schultz and the series victory for the Ragin’ Cajuns, improving their record to 4-8 for the season.
Next up, Louisiana will travel to participate in the Diamond Invitational in Pensacola, Florida with matchups against Samford, Michigan State, and Troy.