Louisiana Baseball Survives Late Rally to Beat Troy 3-2
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns received an outstanding pitching performance by Connor Cooke and held on to survive a late push by the Troy Trojans to win 3-2.
With the win, Louisiana is 29-22 overall and 12-11 in Sun Belt Conference play. Because Little Rock and UT-Arlington both lost, the Cajuns are in sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt West Division. They are one game behind the Mavericks for first place and one game in front of Little Rock for third place with one game left to go in the regular season.
Head coach Matt Deggs credited Cooke for playing a big role to tie up the weekend series.
"They're a good ball club and they're a good matchup for us," Deggs said. "Thank god for Connor Cooke tonight. I thought he was going to no-hit them. They finally broke through with a knock and I didn't want to over-extend him."
Cooke's perfect game ended when he allowed a walk with one out in the sixth inning and his no-hit bid finished with a two-out single in the seventh inning.
Deggs said that his starting pitcher was the best in the conference after tonight's performance.
"He's pound-for-pound the best I've seen in the league," Deggs said. "He can beat you with a fastball and he can beat you with three other pitches."
The Cajuns starter pitched 7.2 innings, striking out seven batters and allowing only three hits and two runs to improve to 7-4 this season.
Cooke had retired the first 15 batters he faced, but Louisiana's offense got off to a slow start with only one hit in the first four innings.
They finally gave Cooke some run support with a big rally in the fifth inning. The first two runners in the inning reached on a batter hit by a pitch and a walk. Then, with one out, CJ Willis, Bobby Lada, and Drake Osborn each hit RBI-singles consecutively, and Louisiana had opened up a 3-0 lead.
After the Cajuns offense had started 1-13 in the game, those three hits were pivotal in tying the series.
Cooke continued to dominate, but the Trojans ended the shutout with a solo home run in the eighth inning to make it 3-1. A two-out double ended his night and Deggs went to the bullpen to get the final four outs of the game.
After Jeff Wilson gave up a RBI-double, Cajuns closer Brandon Talley entered and used a fly-out to get the final out of the eighth.
Louisiana's offense failed to add any insurance in the bottom half of the eighth, but Talley got the final three outs in the ninth to earn his eighth save of the year.
The Cajuns held on to win 3-2 and set up a rubber match in the series finale. Deggs announced that Carter Robinson will start the final game of the regular season for Louisiana.