Cajuns Take Game One From A-State, 6-5
Michael Strentz had two hits, drove in three runs and threw out a base runner in the eighth inning as the second-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns defeated Arkansas State, 6-5, in the first of a three game series between the Sun Belt's top two teams at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro, AR.
Louisiana (42-6, 19-3 Sun Belt) never trailed in the game as they increased their lead to five games over the Red Wolves in league play.
Austin Robichaux (6-2) worked the first five innings to record the win. Ryan WIlson got the last seven outs for his fifth save of the season.
The Cajuns got on the board first on a leadoff single by Chase Compton and a double to deep left from Strentz against A-State starter David Owen (5-4). They increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Wilson doubled and scored on a single by Jace Conrad. After Compton was hit by a pitch, Strentz lofted a single to left center to make the score 3-0.
The Red Wolves (26-20, 14-8) got two of the runs right back in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Austin Baker and a two run homer to right by Matt Burgess to cut the lead to one run.
The Cajuns answered with two of their own in the fifth as Ryan Leonards and Seth Harrison led off with infield singles. Tyler Girouard then grounded to first base, but Dustin Jones failed to catch Burgess' throw to second base and Leonards scored. Harrison later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 5-2. The Cajuns increased the lead to 6-2 in the sixth on a Compton single, a wild pitch, a throwing error and a Strentz groundout for what proved to be the winning run.
Robichaux worked the first five innings and threw just 59 pitches, allowing three hits and two runs.
Reliever Greg Milhorn got a double play ball from Baker to end the sixth, but walked Burgess leading off the seventh. After Stuart Levy struck out and Lucan Federson grounded out, Ty Michelotti doubled to score Burgess. Joe Schrimpf then hit a bleeder to center to score Michelotti, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Dustin Jones doubled to right center against a Cajuns' outfield shift to get the Red Wolves within a run. Wilson came in from right field and got Eric Wilcoxsin on a called third strike to prevent further damage.
Zach Maggio walked to lead off the eighth by Wilson made a spectacular diving play on Baker's sacrifice bunt attempt and threw to first to complete the double play. Burgess then singled, but was gunned down by Strentz when he tried to move up on a pitch in the dirt.
Tanner Ring got a pinch hit single with two out in the ninth inning to put the tying run on base, but Wilson caught Derek Birginske looking at strike three to end the game.
Owen pitched six innings, giving up eight hits and six runs. Only three of the runs were earned, however, as Arkansas State made an uncharacteristic three errors in the contest.
The two teams will square off at Tomlinson Stadium again Saturday evening at 6pm Carson Baranik (8-1) will be opposed by right hander Bradley Wallace (3-3).