Louisiana Suffers Tough 4-3 Loss To Georgia Southern
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team controlled the first seven innings of their game against Georgia Southern, but the Eagles stole the game late to even the series with a 4-3 win.
Louisiana fell to 13-13 with the loss. They are 3-5 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Jacob Schultz started on the mound for the Cajuns and was excellent. For over seven innings, he had a shutout going, but a two-run home run in the eighth inning gave the Eagles a chance in the ninth and they capitalized to beat Louisiana.
Head coach Matt Deggs talked about Schultz' performance and what his team's mindset is following the tough loss.
"I don't know what else you could ask for," Deggs said. "That was a tremendous job by him. We've handed the ball off to Chip several times lately and done the job. It just didn't work out today. That's baseball. We've got another chance to win a series tomorrow and that's what we plan on doing."
The Cajuns jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Max Marusak bunted for a single, Tyler Robertson reached on a fielding error on a bunt attempt, and Kyle DeBarge bunted both of them into scoring position. Carson Roccaforte came to the plate and scored two runs on a RBI-single, but he was caught trying to get to second base on the play. Connor Kimple singled in the next at-bat and made it to third base on a failed pickoff attempt, but a groundout stranded him there.
Schultz gave up his first hit in the second inning, but it was quickly erased by a double-play to end the frame.
While Schultz was dealing, Louisiana had a golden opportunity to break the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning. Roccaforte reached on an error, Kimple walked, and Will Veillon singled to load the bases with no outs. However, on a groundout, the third baseman went home plate to get the force out. Julian Brock hit a sacrifice fly-out to score a run, but a groundout ended the inning.
The Cajuns got one run out of it, but they had potential to break the game open with a big inning and chase the Eagles starting pitcher. Deggs talked about the importance of that inning.
"That's a good pitcher we faced," Deggs said. "We loaded them up with no outs and only got one run. At that juncture when we've got him sped up, we've got to try to finish that thing right there."
The Cajuns only managed one hit through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, proving Deggs' point. The Georgia Southern starter kept them in the game and allowed a potential comeback to stay possible.
Schultz finally ran into trouble in the top of the fifth. The Cajun starter gave up a single and walk to start the inning, and, after a strikeout, a single loaded the bases with one out. Schultz remained calm and forced a ground ball to Roccaforte at first base who went to home plate for the force-out. Another groundout to Roccaforte ended the inning and stranded the bases loaded without a run crossing.
The Cajun starter stranded two more runners in the sixth, but Louisiana's offense failed to add to the lead.
The eighth inning was where the game started it's massive momentum shift. Schultz came back for another inning of work and quickly got a fly-out before giving up a single. A groundout got him one out away from getting out of trouble, but a two-run home run with two outs cut the lead to 3-2. Schultz got the strikeout to end the inning, but a game that Louisiana controlled throughout was suddenly close. That home run was the only extra base hit of the game for the Eagles.
Needing insurance runs, Robertson got a leadoff single, but a double-play and pop up kept the Cajuns scoreless for the fourth straight inning.
In the ninth, Chipper Menard entered to attempt to secure his fourth straight save. The Eagles hit a leadoff single, and a hit-by-pitch in the next at-bat had them in business to either tie or take the lead. A bunt brought the two runners into scoring position, and a squeeze bunt scored the tying run. With runners at the corners and one out, a pop up kept the leading runner at third.
Hayden Durke came on to get the final out, and he got a ground ball to Bobby Lada at second base. The Georgia Southern batter beat the throw to first which allowed the leading run to score. Durke got a strikeout to end the frame but not before the Eagles finished off their second straight two-run inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Georgia Southern completed the comeback, and the Cajuns offense had to play from behind for the first time in the contest. Kimple singled to start things off, but, just like the eighth inning, a double-play erased the leadoff runner. A groundout gave the Cajuns a shocking loss.
Georgia Southern recorded five of their eight hits in the final two innings. Their furious comeback evened up the series and erased an excellent performance from Schultz. Now, the Cajuns and Eagles will play the series finale on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Russo Park.