IT’S NECESSARY!! Cajuns Win Twice to Set Up Regional Showdown Monday Night
Faced with elimination for the second straight day, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns braved two opponents and a three hour weather delay to extend their season by at least one more day.
Louisiana (56-8) pounded out eighteen hits to swamp Mississippi State, 14-8, in the second game of the day to set up a winner take all game Monday night for the Lafayette Regional Championship at M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
It was the second straight game for double-digit runs as the Cajuns eliminated Jackson State 11-1 in a game delayed over three hours by rain earlier to advance to the championship round.
Matt Hicks (8-1) pitched five shutout innings in relief after the rain delay to get the win in game one and Cody Boutte overcame a shaky start to pitch into the seventh inning and get his ninth win of the year without a loss.
Jace Conrad had six hits and drove in nine runs in the two games to pace the Cajuns. The Louisville Slugger first team All-American hit a grand slam home run in the first game, and then got the Cajuns jump started in the nightcap with a two run home run in the first inning.
Conrad’s two run shot in the nightcap came after a Ryan Leonards bunt single off All-SEC second team lefty Ross Mitchell and gave Louisiana an early 2-0 lead. His RBI single in the sixth completed the Cajuns’ scoring as the Sun Belt champions scored in each of their first six at bats.
Mitchell (8-5) was chased after three innings, allowing seven hits and six runs. Three Bulldogs’ relievers didn’t fare much better as the Cajuns added eleven more hits and eight more runs.
The Cajuns added a run in the second inning on an RBI single by Dylan Butler, but Mississippi State (39-23) tied it in the third against Boutte, who gave up eight hits in the first three innings. Five of those hits came in the third, with three straight hits followed by a sacrifice fly and a single that tied the game at 3-3 as the Bulldogs fans chanted “S-E-C.”
But Louisiana, as they have done so many times this year, answered right back with three of their own, on RBI singles by Caleb Adams and Chase Compton and a Seth Harrison sacrifice fly, prompting the majority of the 3,729 fans in attendance to counter with the chant “S-B-C.”
The Cajuns then put the game away in the fourth inning off relievers Myles Gentry and Brandon Woodruff as Blake Trahan singled home Jace Conrad. Trahan scored when Tyler Girouard doubled to left and advanced to third on an error by left fielder Demarcus Armstrong. Adams walked and Compton delivered a run scoring single. Harrison then drove in two runs with a double and Butler followed with another RBI hit to complete the big inning and give the Cajuns a 12-3 lead. Girouard drove in another run in the fifth before Conrad’s final RBI made it 14-3 after six.
Boutte settled in after the third and retired ten of the next eleven batters he faced before giving up two hits and a walk, resulting in two runs in the seventh. Martin Anderson got out of the inning with a ground ball and a fly out. Mississippi State scored twice against Anderson in the eighth, and reliever Ben Carter gave up a solo homer in the ninth to Wes Rea as the Bulldogs cut the lead to six runs. But Carter struck out two batters in the ninth, including a strikeout of Matthew Britton which ended the game.
Conrad, Trahan and Butler each had three hits for the Cajuns, while Leonards, Girouard, Compton and Harrison added two hits each. Conrad and Harrison each drove in three runs, while Butler, Compton and Girouard knocked in two apiece.
All-SEC second team performer Brett Pirtle had four hits and drove in three runs for Mississippi State, while C. T. Bradford added three hits and Seth Heck and Rea each had two. Rea also drove in three runs for the Bulldogs.
In the first game, the Cajuns took advantage of six walks and a hit batsman in the first three innings to build an 8-1 lead. Caleb Adams drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning off losing pitcher Christopher Wingard (2-2). A single and two walks loaded the bases in the second before Conrad unloaded his third grand slam homer of the season on the first pitch from reliever Andre Rodriguez to make the score 5-1. The Cajuns added two more runs in the third on an RBI double by Ryan Leonards and a sacrifice fly by Blake Trahan.
Freshman Chris Charpentier got his first start of the season and held Jackson State (32-25) to just one run over four innings. But after throwing one pitch in the fifth inning, lightning in the area forced a delay that lasted three hours and 12 minutes. Charpentier allowed one run on four hits and struck out five without walking anyone.
The nine RBI on the day for Conrad lifted his total to 63 on the season, tied with Harrison for the team lead. They are the first duo to drive in 60 or more runs in a season since Dallas Morris and Josh Landry turned the trick in 2005.
Hicks gave up four hits and struck out four with one walk in his 81 pitch outing.
Conrad had a two run single in the seventh inning after play resumed to give him six RBI for the game. Leonards reached base five straight times on three walks and two hits and scored four runs Butler had a pair of hits and scored twice.
Monday’s championship game between Louisiana and Mississippi State will begin at 6:05 and will be broadcast on 96.5 KPEL-FM beginning at 5:35pm.