Louisiana Baseball Wins Series in Monroe with 5-2 Game 2 Victory
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns' pitching staff had an effective night in a 5-2 win on the road against the UL-Monroe Warhawks.
With the victory, Louisiana stretched their winning-streak to four games as they improved to 16-11 overall and 4-1 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Connor Cooke got the start for the Cajuns and had a stellar performance. He threw five innings, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out nine batters. With a slow start by the offense, he kept the game close early on and was given the win to improve to 3-2 on the season.
Associate head coach Anthony Babineaux said that Cooke's start was everything the coaching staff had wanted it to be.
"We ask the guys that take the ball to start the game to give us a chance to win, and Cooke did that," Babineaux said. "He really filled up the zone. He attacked hitters and gave us what we needed to win today."
The Cajuns' pitching staff racked up a combined 14 strikeouts in the game while only allowing five hits. However, one of their big issues was walks. They gave up seven free base runners on walks in the game, but did a good job of pitching around trouble. The Warhawks stranded 12 runners in the game.
UL-Monroe opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning on an inside-the-park home run off of Cooke. It was the only run he gave up on the night, but, because the Cajuns offense struggled early on, it gave them a 1-0 lead.
Louisiana's offense responded with their first two runs of the game in the top of the fifth to take their first lead of the night. They added to it in the top of the sixth on a huge two-out pinch-hit RBI-double by Josh Cofield to make it 3-1.
The Ragin' Cajuns' pitching staff ran into issues in the bottom of the sixth inning. A walk, single and hit batter loaded the bases, and, with two outs, another walk brought in the Warhawks' second run of the game. Relief pitcher Hayden Durke came in, and fought back from behind to get the final out of the inning to maintain the 3-2 Louisiana lead. UL-Monroe left the bases loaded and the Cajuns survived what could have become a big inning.
Brennan Breaux hit a lead-off double in the top of the seventh inning, and Louisiana used a groundout and throwing error to respond to the Warhawks' run with one of their own. The Cajuns' offense did the exact same thing in the top of the eighth inning, using a lead-off double, bunt and groundout to bring the fifth run of the game home to make it 5-2.
Louisiana's offense, after going scoreless in the first four innings, scored two runs in the fifth and one run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take control of the game.
After walking two batters with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Talley came on in relief for Durke and got the final two outs to close the inning. Talley got the last three outs in the ninth inning to finish off his five-out save and give the Cajuns a series win with a 5-2 victory. The save is Talley's fourth of the season.
Babineaux was happy with his bullpen's performance after Cooke set the tone with his quality start, but he also said that there is still work to be done in Monroe, Louisiana.
"We preach to those guys out of the pen to attack the zone and they did just that," Babineaux said. "We got the first two, and now the attention is to come in to game three with as much focus as we did the first two."
Louisiana will look to sweep UL-Monroe in the third and final game of the series on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.