Cajuns Shutout Rice
Rice put several runners aboard Tuesday evening at Reckling Park and Louisiana’s pitchers stood tall in not allowing a single one to reach home plate in a 2-0 Cajuns victory.
Pitchers Jordan Nicholson, Chase Traffica and Caleb Kellogg combined to strand 18 Rice runners to make a two-spot in the third inning stand up for the Cajuns (17-11).
The final threat for the Owls (21-12) came with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. Traffica froze Michael Fuda with strike three on a full count to preserve the lead.
Kellogg pitched the ninth inning – a hit by pitch with two outs his only blemish – to notch his third save in the last seven days.
Louisiana collected its first victory at Reckling Park, this being the program’s fourth visit, and posted a shutout of the Owls for the second time in the past three meetings.
The Ragin’ Cajuns win streak increased to six games while Rice saw its five-game win streak snapped. The two teams will meet again in a midweek game on Tuesday, May 10 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
The Cajuns return to Sun Belt Conference play this weekend in Bowling Green, Ky., against Western Kentucky (18-11) at Nick Denes Field. UL and WKU are both 6-3 in league play and tied for second place. The series begins Friday at 6 p.m.
After two scoreless frames to start the game, the Cajuns posted the game’s only runs picking them up in the third inning.
A one-out single through the right side by Alex Fuselier advanced Michael Strentz (leadoff single) to third base. On a walk issued to Greg Fontenot the delivery from Jeremy Fant was wild and allowed Strentz to trot home from third with the first run.
Mike Petello brought home the second run of the inning with a two-out RBI single through the left side.
Rice reliever Abe Gonzales walked Lance Marvel to load the bases, but recovered by striking out Matt Goulas to prevent further damage.
The Owls put traffic on the basepath against Nicholson over the first five innings and he managed to strand a combined 10 baserunners to maintain the lead.
The Owls loaded the bases and were poised for a game-changing moment in the fifth inning when Nicholson induced a fly out to shallow right off Michael Ratterree then a fielder’s choice grounder from Derek Hamilton resulted in a force play at third base to end the inning.
A Nicholson-turned double play erased a leadoff walk by the Owls in the sixth inning, and then he stranded two more runners in scoring position by forcing a fly out from Shane Hoelscher with runners on second and third.
Nicholson picked up the victory for UL improving to 2-2. He tossed six innings and scattered seven hits while posting four strikeouts. Traffica bridged the gap to Kellogg by working scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth inning.
The 18 runners left on base by Rice was a school record and a season-high stranded for Cajuns pitching.
BASES NOTED: Jordan Nicholson made his third midweek start and first since March 1 vs. Southern…Nicholson, who made three consecutive weekend starts beginning with the Cal Baseball Classic, was held out of the FAU series because of a sore elbow…For seniors Randall Bulliard, Michael Cook, Greg Fontenot, Matt Goulas, Tuesday’s game marked their third trip to Reckling Park (played as freshmen in 2008 and sophomores at 2009)…Mike Petello’s two-out RBI single in the third inning marked his team-best 12th two-out RBI…Alex Fuselier finished the night 2-for-5 to record his sixth multiple-hit game of the season…Louisiana is 16-5 when holding the opposition below five runs…For the eighth time the Cajuns held the opponent to two runs or less…UL improved to 6-0 on Tuesday and 6-2 in midweek games…The game marked the beginning of the second half of the 2011 campaign and the start of a stretch in which the Cajuns play 10 of 11 games on the road…UL has now won four of its last five road games, improving to 5-4 on the opponents home turf.