Coming off of a win over Jackson State on Tuesday and traveling to Biloxi to face Mississippi State, Louisiana baseball returned back to the Tigue on Friday to open conference play versus Arkansas State. The offense for the Cajuns exploded early on as they would beat the Red Wolves 15-3 and take game one of the series.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Cajuns wasted no time putting up runs and taking advantage of some mistakes by the Red Wolves in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Ben Robichaux hit a ground-rule double down the infield line and advanced to third off Kyle DeBarge’s pop fly. Heath Hood hit an RBI double down third base into the corner of the outfield and made it to third base on a throwing error.
Mason Zambo’s double allowed Hood to score while Julian Brock was walked and John Taylor’s double to right field gave Zambo and Brock enough time to put up the third and fourth runs. Louisiana reached base several times off wild pitches and stole seven bases as the Cajuns were up 7-0 after one inning of play.
Arkansas State switched pitcher Tyler Jeans with Aaron Evers at the bottom of the second inning.
On the other side, Friday starting pitcher Jake Hammond played well as he struck out four out of the first six Arkansas State batters and retired his fifth and sixth in the fourth.
At the bottom of the fourth, Robicaux and Hood were walked and were in scoring position but Zambo’s ground out ended the inning and left them both stranded.
Arkansas State would score its first run of the evening in the fifth inning as Brayden Caskey scored an unearned run off of a throwing error to second base. Caskey hit a single into left field to open the frame.
The scoring drought for Louisiana ended in the sixth inning. Marusak and Robichaux both hit singles with Marusak getting to second after shortstop Kody Darcy misjudged the pop fly. DeBarge hit the ball just over the outstretched glove of Arkansas State’s third baseman and gave Marusak time to get home. The Wolves made their fourth pitching change from Michael Finan to Coby Greiner. With two outs, Hood reached first on another throwing error and advanced to second while DeBarge scored the unearned run. The Cajuns were up 9-1 heading into the seventh inning.
David Christie came in for Hammond in the eighth. Allen Grier started off with a double, then advanced to third on the sacrifice out by Wil French. Grier scored while Blake Burris reached first base on a wild pitch, then scored himself on a fielder’s choice as the Red Wolves were down 9-3.
DeBarge at the bottom of the eighth hit a single into left field and proceeded to steal second and third base and got home on a deep fly-out by Carson Roccaforte. Luke Yuhasz (who pinch-ran for Hood) then hit a triple off the right-field wall and scored off Clay Wargo’s RBI single. That hit was Wargo’s first of his Cajun career. The bases ended up loaded as Conor Higgs hit his first home run of the year and grand slam over the left wall to put the Cajuns up 12.
Louisiana would end the night with a 15-4 win over Arkansas State after the Wolves scored one more run in the ninth.
BIG NUMBER: 11
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team stole seven bases in the first inning and 11 in total in the ball game which resulted in their offense putting up 11 runs as the Cajuns would end up defeating the Red Wolves 15-3.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jake Hammond
Hammond had himself a night as he struck out 10 batters while allowing four hits and one run and had no walks in seven full innings. The 10 strikeouts are a career-high for Hammond.
UP NEXT: Game two of this three-game series versus the Red Wolves will be tomorrow March 18th at 2:00 p.m.