Cajuns Fall in 17 Innings, 5-4 to McNeese
Connor Lloyd's two out single in the 17th inning was the game winner Tuesday night as McNeese State defeated the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 5-4 before 2213 chilly fans at M. L. "Tigue" Moore Field.
Lloyd's hit scored Connor Crane with the game winning unearned run after the Cajuns made their fourth error of the night. Only two of McNeese's runs were earned. The hit off Logan Stoelke (0-1), the seventh Cajun pitcher came after Crane reached on Blake Trahan's one out error. Lewis Guilbeaux's single moved Crane to second and after Bryce Packerd flew out to center, Lloyd's came through with the clutch hit.
Tyler Day (1-0), the seventh McNeese pitcher, worked out of two out trouble in the 16th inning by getting Evan Powell to pop out with runners on second and third. Austin Briggs got the final two outs for his first save.
The 15 pitchers used in the game combined to throw 543 pitches, with McNeese throwing 278 and the Cajuns 265. The pitchers combined to give up 13 walks and struck out 33 opposing hitters.
McNeese (5-4) scored in the first inning when Billy Sommers hit a one out triple. Cajuns' starter Gunner Leger got Crane to pop out and struck out Guilbeau, but Nick Thurman's throw to first after the strikeout misfired and the Cowboys led 1-0.
The Cajuns (4-4) took the lead in the third when Kyle Clement walked and stole second. Dylan Butler got an infield hit and Clement scored when Lloyd threw wild to first base trying to get Butler out. Butler was picked off, but Trahan singled and after Brenn Conrad hit into a force play, Greg Davis doubled up the gap to give the Cajuns a 2-1 lead.
That lead only lasted until the top of the fourth when Guilbeau led off with a walk. Kris Molter reached on Conrad's error and Lloyd bunted safely to load the bases. Leger struck out Lucas Quary, but Matt Gallier singled to score one run and the second scored when Butler bobbled the ball in left field and McNeese led 3-2.
The Cajuns tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when Butler doubled and went to third on a throwing error. Trahan's safety squeeze brought in Butler to make the score 3-3.
McNeese took a 4-3 lead in the tenth off reliever Colton Lee when Andrew Guillotte doubled with one out and scored on Sommers' single, and the Cajuns looked dead in the water when relief ace Cory LaPeze struck out the first two Cajuns. But Nick Thurman tripled and then scored on a balk to keep the Cajuns alive.
Louisiana had a golden opportunity to win the game in the eleventh when Kyle Clement led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Butler. But Clement was caught in a rundown on the first pitch to Trahan and erased. The Cajuns had another chance in the 15th when Joe Robbins walked and Thurman doubled. But Brian Mills fanned and Clement flied out to end that chance.
The loss spoiled a fine pitching performance by the Cajuns' staff. Freshman Leger allowed just one earned run through four innings. Freshman Wyatt Marks pitched 2.2 innings of hitless ball with five strikeouts. Lee gave up his first run of the season in 3.1 innings while freshman Dylan Moore threw 4.1 scoreless innings for the Cajuns. In all, Cajuns' freshmen pitchers gave up a total of four runs, only one earned, in twelve innings of work.
The win by McNeese broke a Cajuns' eight game winning streak in the series and denied Louisiana coach Tony Robichaux his 1,000th career victory in front of the home crowd. Robichaux will get another chance this weekend when the Cajuns travel to Alabama for a three game series beginning Friday night in Hoover, AL.