After stretching their winning streak to three games with an 11-2 midweek victory against the Rice Owls, the Louisiana baseball team won two out of three games at the Cox Diamond Invitational in Pensacola, Florida.
Their first game of the weekend against the Samford Bulldogs ended the brief winning streak for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Samford’s offense jumped on Friday starter Conor Angel early in the game.
In the second inning, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs, and went on a five-run rally. They once again loaded the bases without any outs in the third inning, and Angel’s night was over. Samford stretched their early lead to 8-0.
Louisiana finally answered with a run in the fourth inning on a RBI-single by Connor Kimple, but a two-out two-run homerun in the sixth by the Bulldogs made the game 10-1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns had their best opportunity to show fight on offense in the eighth inning, but they only managed one run after having four players successfully reach base in the inning.
The two teams traded two-run innings in the ninth and the Bulldogs pulled away for a 12-4 victory in the first game of the Invitational for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana’s pitching struggled against the Samford offense, giving up nine walks and one hit batter, most of which came in the early rallies for the Bulldogs.
The pitching staff tightened in game two behind Brandon Young and Brandon Talley, who held Michigan State’s offense silent for most of the game.
Similar to game one, the Ragin’ Cajuns found themselves in an early hole. The Spartans loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning on a walk, error, and hit batter. A groundout, wild pitch, and balk scored three unearned runs on Young in the inning for the Spartans without a hit.
Louisiana’s offense loaded the bases in the top of the second, but failed to score a run. In the fourth inning, Sebastian Toro brought the Ragin’ Cajuns a run closer with a RBI-single to make it 3-1.
Young kept the Michigan State offense silent until the Ragin’ Cajuns seventh-inning rally. A walk and triple brought the Ragin’ Cajuns within one run and then Ben Fitzgerald hit a two-run homerun to give Louisiana a 4-3 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns offense scored two more insurance runs on an error in the eighth, and Talley shut the door on the Spartans. Striking out six straight batters and then recording the final two outs of the game by groundouts, Talley finished his stellar game with a save in two-and-two-thirds innings of work, striking out six batters and not allowing a hit.
The only two hits for the Spartans in the game came off of Young, who earned his third win of the season in the 6-3 victory. Young struck out 10 batters, gave up three runs, no earned runs, and two hits in six-and-one-thirds innings pitched.
For the second straight weekend, Young’s Saturday performance helped get Louisiana a spark towards a series victory. Talley’s masterful performance out of the bullpen gave him his first save of the season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns took the opportunity to win their second consecutive weekend series with a victory against the Troy Trojans.
For the first time all weekend, Louisiana was the first on the scoreboard against their opponent, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning
Nick Hagedorn rewarded a two-out triple by Fitzgerald in the top of the first inning by bringing him in on a single to give the Ragin Cajuns an early lead.
The Trojans answered in the bottom of the second with two runs on a RBI-groundout and two-out RBI-single off of Louisiana starting pitcher Will Moriarty, but Troy did not hold the lead for long.
In the biggest rally of the weekend, the Ragin’ Cajuns bats erupted for a five-run third inning highlighted by Talley’s first hit in a Louisiana uniform: a clutch two-out RBI-single that scored two runs and extended their lead to 6-2.
The Ragin’ Cajuns scored two more runs in the fourth on a couple of errors by the Trojans defense, giving Moriarty great early run support and an 8-2 lead.
Troy eventually chased Moriarty in the sixth inning after giving up another run, but his five-and-one-thirds innings of work was enough to give him his first victory of the season.
Troy cut the lead to 8-4 in the sixth inning, but the Ragin’ Cajuns bullpen once again locked down the opposing offense. This time, Jeff Wilson and Jacob Schultz kept the Trojans hitless through the final three-and-two-thirds innings, and the Ragin’ Cajuns picked up their second victory of the Invitational.
After a disappointing Friday performance against Samford, Louisiana’s pitching staff tightened up with some great performances, and the Ragin’ Cajuns offense took advantage of big innings on Saturday and Sunday to bring the team to 7-9 on the season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have now won five of their last six and will start Sun Belt Conference play with a three-game home series against the 10-5 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.