The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball team opened up their season on the road as they took on Rice in game one of their three-game series. It was back-and-forth throughout but the Vermilion and White started 2023 with a 5-4 win on the road.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The opening inning for Louisiana was short-lived as Kyle Debarge and Heath Hood hit groundouts. Carson Roccaforte got hit by a pitch but was the third out when he tried to steal second base.
Rice took the one-run lead in their first frame. Guy Garibay Jr singled into left field with two outs, then Manny Garza drove him in with a double into right field.
At the bottom of the second, Drew Holderbach was walked and advanced to second base off of a wild pitch. Cajuns pitcher Jake Hammond struck out the next three Rice batters to send us into the third inning.
It was a big inning for Louisiana as they took their first lead of the season in the third. John Taylor was hit by the ball and moved to second due to a wild pitch. Will Veillon’s bunt and CJ Willis’ single to the right tied the game with no outs to this point.
Veillon got picked off by Rice’s shortstop, Max Johnson but Debarge hit a single, then Hood’s hit to the left drove in Willis, and Roccaforte’s fly out into center field allowed Debarge to go home. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ lead was 3-1.
Rice made it a one-run game at the bottom of the fourth. Aaron Smigelski made it to first base from his single, then moved to second from Holderbach’s sacrifice bunt. Smigelski scored from third base off Nathan Becker’s groundout RBI.
The Owls took the lead back in the seventh inning. It started with Smigelski getting walked by Ben Tate. Ben Royo was caught out in the right field but allowed Smigelski to score from third base and Holderbach advanced to third due to an error by Hood. Connor Walsh and Johnson were walked and loaded the bases, which forced coach Matt Deggs to make another pitching change to Dylan Theut. Theut’s opening walk put Rice up 4-3, but Garibay hit a grounder to Taylor for the easy third out of the inning.
At the top of the eighth, with Debarge sitting at first, Hood hit his first home run of the season over the center-field wall to put the Cajuns back up by one with an inning and a half to go.
Theut struck out all three batters in the bottom half of the inning, but with two runners on base in the ninth inning, Brendan Moody came in to close the game for the Cajuns as Louisiana took down the Rice Owls 5-4 to begin the season after Holderbach hit a groundout with bases loaded and two outs.
BIG NUMBER: 11
The Louisiana pitchers totaled 11 strikeouts in their opening-day win over the Rice Owls as Jake Hammond had six, Dylan Theut had four, and Brendan Moody had the final one.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Heath Hood
Hood’s home run was the only one on the night as he had two total hits and RBIs on four at-bats as the Cajuns defeated the Owls 5-4.
UP NEXT: Game two of this three-game series will begin tomorrow afternoon with the first pitch at 2:00 p.m.