Cajuns’ Comeback Thwarts FIU, 5-4
Finally, someone got a big hit.
Trailing 4-0, Louisiana rallied for three runs in the sixth inning, and Brian Bowman’s two run single was the deciding hit in the seventh as Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns came back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat FIU 5-4, evening their Sun Belt series at one game apiece.
Bowman’s single came on a 2-2 pitch from reliever Eddy Pidermann and scored Jace Conrad and Tyler Frederick with the tying and go-ahead runs.
The win was just the third in the last eleven games for the Cajuns. Bowman has had the game winning RBI in all three wins.
For the first five innings, however, it looked like a game the Cajuns had played in a lot during the last eleven games.
The Cajuns stranded eight baserunners during the first five innings, including a bases loaded, no out situation in the third inning.
But facing a 4-0 deficit in the sixth, Louisiana (16-18, 6-8 Sun Belt) came back against the FIU bullpen. Conrad drew a leadoff walk from John Caballero, who came on in relief of starter Mike Ellis to begin the sixth. Caballero got Frederick looking at a third strike and struck out Almann Snowden swinging for the second out. But catcher Adam Todd drew a walk and Bowman walked to load the bases. Tyler Girouard, making his first start in two weeks because of a pulled quad muscle, then bounced a single to right, scoring two runs and Ryan Leonards followed with a single to left-center to bring the Cajuns within a run. John Costa (2-2) came on and struck out Chase Compton to end the inning.
In the seventh, Dylan Butler singled to lead off, but was forced at second on a bunt attempt by Conrad. Frederick was hit by a pitch, which brought Pidermann into the game for the second straight night. Snowden then hit a slow roller that was booted by second baseman T. J. Shantz, loading the bases. Pidermann struck out Todd for the second out, but Bowman’s liner down the line in right scored the final two runs of the game.
FIU (20-14, 8-6) would threaten in the final two innings against reliever Caleb Kellogg, getting back to back two out hits in the eighth before the sophomore from DeQuincy got Nathan Burns on a fly ball to end the inning.
Then, in the ninth, Shantz was hit by a pitch to begin the ninth. Pablo Bermudez then bunted down the first base line and Compton appeared to make a sliding catch. But the ball was dislodged when he hit the ground and was ruled a no-catch by home plate umpire Larry Short. The play worked in the Cajuns’ favor as Compton started an easy double play. Mike Martinez then singled for his third hit of the game, bringing up reigning SBC Player of the Week Jabari Henry. Kellogg worked the count to 2-2 and then blew a fastball past Henry to preserve the win.
FIU got two runs off Cajuns’ starter Chris Griffitt in the first inning on a hit batsman, two walks and a two run single by Adam Kirsch. The Panthers extended the lead to 4-0 in the third on a pair of walks, a double by Kirsch and a groundout by Aramis Garcia.
Derek Howell came on for the Cajuns in the fourth inning and shut FIU down in the middle three innings. He left the game after allowing back to back singles by Martinez and Henry in the seventh. Matt Hicks (2-0) came on and got Kirsch to fly out to center on the only pitch he threw in the game.
The three run inning in the sixth was the first for the Cajuns since March 23, when they scored seven times in the eighth inning in a win over Arkansas State. It was also the first time the Cajuns scored more than three runs in a game since that series against the Red Wolves.
The Cajuns will go for the series win Sunday at M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field in a game slated to start at 12:05. Lefty Jordan Harrison will get the start for the Cajuns. Lefty R. J. Fondon will be the starter for FIU.
The game can be heard on 96.5 KPEL-FM beginning at 11:35.