Late Inning Walks Doom Louisiana in 7-3 Loss to Louisiana Tech
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns pitching staff allowed 11 free base runners in a 7-3 loss to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
With the loss, Louisiana dropped to 14-14 overall. They're 3-5 on the road this season. Head coach Matt Deggs talked after the game about the free passes and how the team lost the game late.
"It can't happen when you're playing a top RPI team on the road," Deggs said. "We are way better than that. It was a good game against tough arms on both sides, and we unraveled at the end there. That's unacceptable."
In the first three innings, nine of the 10 Louisiana batters that came to the plate were retired. Hayden Durke got the start for the Cajuns and worked out of a jam where he loaded the bases with two outs. A strikeout stranded all three base runners.
A leadoff solo home run by the Bulldogs in the third inning broke the scoreless tie. A walk and a RBI-double in the same frame made it 2-0, but Durke stranded two more Bulldogs in scoring position with another strikeout.
Bo Bonds entered in the fourth inning to relieve Durke, and he recorded nine straight outs for the Cajuns to keep the game close in the middle innings.
Louisiana had their first runner reach scoring position in the fifth inning on a one-out double by Connor Kimple, but a strikeout and fly-out kept them scoreless. The Cajuns finally broke through against the first bullpen pitcher they faced.
In the sixth inning, Max Marusak was hit by a pitch and stole second base. After Kyle DeBarge walked with two outs, Carson Roccaforte hit a RBI-single to cut the lead in half. He advanced to second on the play, so the Cajuns had two runners in scoring position. However, a groundout ended the threat.
Louisiana took their first and only lead in the top of the seventh. Kimple reached on an error and stole second base. Julian Brock walked, and the Cajuns attempted to execute a double-steal. Instead, Brock was out at second base, so, with two outs, Warnner Rincones came to the plate. The Cajun infielder cracked his first collegiate home run to put Louisiana up 3-2. Marusak singled and advanced to third base on a throwing error, but the Cajuns couldn't score him to add an extra run in the frame.
It didn't take long for La Tech to answer. Bonds gave up his first hit of the night: a leadoff solo home run to tie it, but that was just the start of a nightmare finish for the Louisiana bullpen. Bonds got two outs on a strikeout and line-out following the solo shot, but two walks and a single loaded the bases, and a third walk in the inning broke the tie to give the Bulldogs the lead back for good. A pop up on a full count finally ended the inning.
La Tech went to their closer with the lead in the eighth inning. DeBarge hit a leadoff single, but he was called out on a strike-out, throw-out play to immediately give Louisiana two outs in the frame. Heath Hood was hit by a pitch and stole second base to put the tying runner in scoring position, but a groundout kept the Cajuns off the board.
The Bulldogs sealed their victory in the bottom of the eighth. Dylan Theut faced three batters, got to full counts with each of them, and walked two while striking out one. Coach Deggs went to David Christie to face the top of the lineup, but he walked the only batter he faced to load the bases.
The third pitcher of the inning, Chipper Menard, gave up a two-run double. After issuing an intentional walk, a passed ball scored the third run of the frame, but Menard got a strikeout and a groundout to strand two more. Regardless, La Tech broke the game open with three runs on only one hit to go up 7-3 entering the ninth.
The bottom of Louisiana's batting order was retired without reaching base in the final inning of regulation. The Cajuns dropped game one to the Bulldogs.
In the last two innings, Louisiana's bullpen issued seven walks. That, combined with leaving runners in scoring position, was the reason the Cajuns fell short in game one of their two-game set in Ruston.
Up next, these two teams play again on Wednesday, April 6 at 6:00 p.m. Peyton Havard is scheduled to start for the Cajuns.