Cajuns’ Defense Falters in 7-6 Loss to FIU
Going into the weekend series with Florida International, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns had one statistical advantage: defense.
But that defense let the Cajuns down Friday night.
The Cajuns were charged with four errors, costing them runs in the seventh and eighth innings in falling to FIU, 7-6 in eleven innings Friday night at FIU Baseball Stadium in Miami, FL.
The Cajuns (29-14, 10-9 Sun Belt) lost the game in the eleventh on Josh Anderson's bases loaded single with one out. But that wouldn't have come into play had the Cajuns played better defense.
Louisiana scored four times in the first inning on an error, RBI singles by Caleb Adams and Blake Trahan and a successful suicide squeeze bunt by Michael Strentz. But Trahan was thrown out at the plate on a close play trying to get two runs off the squeeze bunt.
FIU (23-17, 11-8) got two of the runs back in the first off Cajuns' starter Austin Robichaux on an RBI double by Zach Sweety and a single by Amaris Garcia. one of three hits on the night for the FIU catcher. The Panthers got within a run in the third on a single by Tyler Hibbart, an error and another Garcia single to make the score 4-3.
Meanwhile, FIU starter Tyler Alexander settled down after the first inning and allowed one hit until the sixth. Dylan Butler led off that inning with a triple that just missed being a home run. But Alexander struck out Strentz, Sam Carriere and Dex Kjerstad to keep the Cajuns at bay.
FIU finally took the lead in the seventh. Oscar Aguirre led off with a double. Hibbart bunted to Robichaux, who threw errantly trying to get Aguirre at third base, which tied the game. With one out, Julius Gaines singled Hibbart to third and he scored on Garcia's third hit of the game to put the Panthers on top 5-4.
The Cajuns scored in the top of the eighth against closer Albert Cardenas when Trahan walked with one out, stole second and came in on Strentz' two out single up the middle to tie the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, however, FIU again took advantage of the Cajuns' defense. Anderson led off the inning by reaching on Trahan's error against reliever Kendall Mayer. The senior right hander struck out the next two batters and got Aguirre to pop the ball up in the infield. But the ball fell safely when none of the infielders could get to the ball in time and FIU led 6-5.
Kjerstad's eighth homer leading off the ninth tied it and the Cajuns had a chance to take the lead when Jace Conrad walked and Ryan Leonards sacrificed him to second. But with one out, Seth Harrison grounded out and after Tyler Girouard was walked intentionally, Trahan flied to center to end the threat.
In the eleventh against reliever Ryan Wilson (3-3), Gaines singled and was sacrificed to second. Garcia was walked intentionally, but shortstop Edwin Rios was also walked, setting the stage for Anderson's game winner.
The two teams will meet again Saturday at 3pm.