Home Runs and Bullpen Pitching Lift Louisiana in 6-4 Win Over SLU
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns used a pair of home runs and a strong bullpen performance to take down the Southeastern Louisiana Lions 6-4 on the road Tuesday night.
With the win, Louisiana is now 12-12 overall. They've won three of their last four games. Head coach Matt Deggs talked about his bullpen, and how some pitchers are starting to fill roles for the Cajuns.
"We've been working on a way to shorten the game, and you saw some of it Sunday and again tonight," Deggs said. "From Shifflet to Tommy, and we mixed David in there. He was really good with the slider, and then Chipper. It looks like we're finding some roles, and if they do that, we have a chance to condense the game."
Deggs also praised his starting catcher Julian Brock, who hit his first career home run in the contest.
"I can't say enough about Julian," Deggs said. "That was gigantic what he did for us. He's just a total unselfish guy and a team player. His home run was loud. That's the way you hit a ball."
The Cajuns found themselves in an early hole when the Lions rallied for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Louisiana starter Peyton Havard recorded the first two outs without a problem, but three hits and a walk allowed Southeastern to take an early 3-0 lead. After that rally, the Cajuns pitching staff looked very strong.
Louisiana was in excellent position to answer in the top of the second when Carson Roccaforte hit a leadoff double and Heath Hood bunted for a single. With runners at the corners and no outs, the Cajuns were unable to record a run.
Durke entered in relief of Havard with one out in the second inning and got the Cajuns out of a jam. He was able to keep the Lions scoreless in a situation where they had two runners in scoring position with only one out, giving the Cajuns momentum.
The Cajuns took advantage of that momentum with a three-run inning in the third. Bobby Lada walked, Warnner Rincones reached on an error, and Tyler Robertson crushed a three-run blast to tie the game.
Durke was excellent in relief, retiring 11 consecutive batters for the Cajuns. However, Louisiana's bats didn't do much in that same time frame. Finally, the Lions caught up to a pitch by Durke and hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to take the lead. His night ended after a single in the following at-bat. In a promising showing, Durke threw four innings, allowing only two hits and one earned run while striking out three.
Drew Shifflet stranded two base runners in the sixth, but the Cajun bats had work to do in order to prevent Durke from potentially picking up the loss.
Brock came through to do just that in the top of the seventh by crushing a two-run home run after Conor Higgs drew a leadoff walk. It was Brock's first career home run, and Louisiana took a 5-4 lead.
After Tommy Ray and David Christie each threw clean frames for the Cajuns, Louisiana added an insurance run in the ninth. Hood hit a leadoff double, and he used quality base running to score on two wild pitches. CJ Willis walked and advanced to second on the third wild pitch of the inning. Brock bunted him over to third base, but the attempted squeeze play on a bunt missed, and Willis was tagged out trying to score. The Cajuns settled for a 6-4 lead entering the bottom of the ninth.
Chipper Menard pitched the final inning of the game for Louisiana and earned his second straight save by slamming the door shut on the Lions to secure the 6-4 road victory.
Up next, Louisiana is scheduled to play at UNO on Wednesday, March 30. However, due to potential poor weather, the game status is uncertain.