Louisiana Escapes Game Two Against Arkansas State With A 5-3 Win
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team rallied late to take down the Arkansas State Red Wolves 5-3 in game two of their weekend series.
With the win, Louisiana improved to 17-14 overall. They have a winning record in Sun Belt Conference play for the first time this season at 6-5. Head coach Matt Deggs talked about how his team bounced back from an series sweep by the Troy Trojans to open Sun Belt play.
"This could get things right for the Troy situation," Deggs said. "That's my mindset. If you drop something like that, then you have to make it up down the road and continue to at least win two of three at home."
Louisiana jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first without recording a hit. Max Marusak walked and stole second base before Tyler Robertson bunted him over to third. This set up a sacrifice fly-out by Kyle DeBarge to score the game's first run. Great execution by the Cajuns put them in front 1-0.
Jacob Schultz got the start and was sensational for Louisiana. He gave up only one base hit in the first five innings for the Cajuns, keeping the Red Wolves scoreless in that time.
Louisiana had base runners in each of the second, third, and fifth innings, but they were unable to add to their lead while Schultz continued mowing down Arkansas State batters.
Marusak got a leadoff single in the sixth and stole second base again. A groundout moved him to third base, and a fielding error by the Arkansas State shortstop on a ground ball by Carson Roccaforte scored him to double Louisiana's lead at 2-0. Roccaforte stole second and advanced to third on another throwing error, but a fly-out stranded him.
Schultz got the first two outs of the sixth before the Red Wolves rallied to finally break through against the Cajun starter. A single, a walk, and another single cut the lead to 2-1 before Schultz ended the threat with a strikeout.
Louisiana got the run back in the top of the seventh. This time, Heath Hood singled and stole second base, advancing to third without any outs on a throwing error. A groundout and pop-up risked losing the scoring opportunity, but Julian Brock came through with a two-out RBI-single to make it 3-1.
Deggs replaced Schultz for relief pitcher Bo Bonds in the bottom of the seventh. He praised his starter, and talked about the decision after the game.
"Great outing by Jacob," Deggs said. "I probably should've stuck with him. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably get him one more. He had a taxing weekend a week ago, and I felt like that was a good note to get him out. A lot of teams that we face are momentum related, and good pitching has to stop that. I thought Schultz did, and I thought Chipper came in behind him and shut that down."
Bonds gave up a walk and single in the two batters he faced. However, a great play by Hood got a runner out on the base paths trying to get to third base. Chipper Menard entered for Louisiana and got a groundout. A two-out double got two runners in scoring position, and a RBI-single tied the game. Menard bounced back for a fly-out, but the momentum had completely shifted.
The Cajuns attempted their own two-out magic in the eighth, loading the bases on a Roccaforte double and two walks. A fly-out ended the threat. Louisiana was 1-13 with runners on base up to that point in the game.
After Menard threw a clean frame, CJ Willis opened the top of the ninth inning with a walk. He made it to scoring position on a failed pickoff attempt, and Marusak reached base on a throwing error with one out. Robertson finally provided the big hit: a RBI-single to score Willis and allow Louisiana to retake the lead at 4-3. DeBarge hit a sacrifice fly-out for insurance, and the Cajuns were three outs away from a series win.
Menard provided that, getting the last three outs to earn the victory. Louisiana won a Saturday game for the first time since the season-opening weekend against UC-Irvine.
Louisiana finished with six stolen bases in the contest. Deggs talked after the game about how that will be a key for the final game of the series.
"This is a tough place to hit and produce offense," Deggs said. "They pitched us well. We had six stolen bases, and that's going to be a key tomorrow. We're going to have to use our legs to create and continue to come up with big hits."
Up next, Louisiana will have an opportunity to sweep the Red Wolves when the two teams play on Sunday, April 10 at 1:00 p.m. Jeff Wilson will start for the Cajuns.