Connor Cooke Dominates, Cajuns Beat North Alabama 5-2 in Game 2
Louisiana's starting pitcher Connor Cooke came one out away from throwing a complete game, and the Cajuns won their weekend series against the North Alabama Lions with a 5-2 game two victory.
The Cajuns improved to 25-20 this season. They are 18-9 at home.
Head coach Matt Deggs praised Cooke's ability to keep the Lions lineup off-balance through his 8.2 innings pitched.
"He grinded for us out there today and he was pretty efficient," Deggs said. "He did a great job of pounding the zone with multiple pitches and navigating their lineup multiple times through."
Drake Osborn used a two-out RBI-single to bring in the first run of the game in the second inning. A groundout prevented a rally and two Cajuns were stranded, but Louisiana had a 1-0 lead.
CJ Willis made it 2-0 one inning later on a double steal, scoring before the Lions caught Tyler Robertson for the final out of the inning.
The Lions finally broke through against Cooke in the fifth inning, breaking his streak of 11-consecutive innings without an earned run by hitting a solo home run to start the inning. Cooke responded by retiring the next three batters to end the fifth.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Cajuns used a two-out rally to stretch their lead. Carson Roccaforte hit a single and Bobby Lada launched a two-run home run to put Louisiana in front 4-1.
Cooke retired 12 of his next 13 batters faced following the solo home run. The only baserunner in that stretch reached on a hit-by-pitch. The Cajuns offense added another run on a RBI-groundout by Jonathan Brandon in the eighth inning to make it 5-1.
In the top of the ninth, a one-out walk and double scored the Lions' second run of the game. Cooke got a groundout to record the second out of the inning, but another walk brought the tying runner to the plate and ended his night. Deggs explained his decision while complimenting his starter's performance.
"He had hit a wall," Deggs said. "He's a terrific athlete and he pitched a whale of a game."
Chipper Menard came out of the bullpen for Louisiana and got the final out with a strikeout to seal the 5-2 win and series victory. It was Menard's first save as a Cajun.
Cooke finished with 8.2 innings pitched, allowing only four hits and two runs while striking out five to improve his record to 6-2 this season.
Deggs appreciated the effort from his defense behind Cooke, and reiterated the team's success when they score five or more runs at the plate.
"I thought defensively we played a pretty good game," Deggs said. "I think we need to execute more offensively, but when we score five runs we are hard to beat."
The Cajuns will look to finish off the sweep tomorrow in game three. The start time is set for 1:00 p.m.