8th Inning Rally Lifts Louisiana in 6-3 Win Over Georgia Southern
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns took an early lead and came up with some clutch hits late in a 6-3 win against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Russo Park on Friday night.
With the win, Louisiana improved to 13-12 overall and 3-4 in Sun Belt Conference play. They have now won four of their last five games.
It didn't take long for Louisiana to start the scoring. In fact, it took one pitch which Max Marusak crushed over the fences in left-center field. Louisiana took an early 1-0 lead.
Brandon Talley got off to a very good start for the Cajuns, and he threw two scoreless frames to open the game. However, Georgia Southern got to him in the third inning after a leadoff triple came around to score on a bunt. With one out and a runner on second, Tyler Robertson turned a double-play on a line-out to keep the game tied.
Louisiana instantly broke that tie in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. Robertson walked and stole second base before Kyle DeBarge cracked a two-run home run to put the Cajuns back in front 3-1. Carson Roccaforte walked to continue the rally and advanced to third base on a steal and throwing error, but a fly-out stranded him.
Both teams traded scoreless innings following the third, but Georgia Southern cut into Louisiana's lead in the top of the sixth. Two singles put runners at the corners with one out, and a RBI-groundout made it 3-2, ending Talley's day. Hayden Durke was the first pitcher out of the bullpen, and he got the third out to strand the tying runner in scoring position.
Durke retired all four batters he faced in relief, but Louisiana couldn't add to their lead in the sixth or seventh inning.
Tommy Ray relieved Durke to start the eighth, and the Eagles were able to tie the game with a RBI-double. However, a strikeout was followed by catcher Julian Brock throwing out a runner trying to steal third base with two outs, so Georgia Southern's damage was limited to one run.
Louisiana answered with a huge rally in the bottom of the eighth. Robertson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and DeBarge bunted him into scoring position. Roccaforte got a big RBI-single that ended up being the game winning hit, but the Cajuns weren't done yet.
After Roccaforte advanced to second base on another bunt, Heath Hood got a clutch two-out RBI-single to score an insurance run. Hood came around to score on a defensive dropped fly error, giving Louisiana a commanding 6-3 lead heading into the final inning of regulation.
Chipper Menard came on for the ninth inning and shut the Eagles down, retiring all three batters he faced. Menard has now earned three straight saves for the Cajuns and has found his role as a closer for the team. Louisiana won the opening game of the series with Georgia Southern 6-3.
Up next, the two teams play again at Russo Park, and Louisiana has an opportunity to pick up the series victory. Game two is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. Jacob Schultz will get the start for the Cajuns.