Cajuns Falter Late at Southern Miss, 9-8
Earlier in the season, the Louisiana pitching staff was doing its job, but the Cajuns couldn't score runs.
Lately, the Cajuns' offense has done enough to win. The bullpen has not.
Southern Miss scored six runs in their final two at-bats Tuesday night to take a 9-8 win over the Ragin' Cajuns at Pete Taylor Park.
Louisiana held an 8-3 lead after seven innings, but Cajuns' reliever Austin Perrin, who had reitred the first six men he faced, walked pinch hitter Fred Franklin to lead off the eighth. Another pinch hitter, Casey Maack, doubled and Luke Reynolds walked. Then Matt Wallner, last year's national Freshman of the Year, belted a Brock Batty pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam to cut the lead to 8-7. Batty and Dylan Moore got the next two outs but Cole Donaldson singled and Mason Irby followed with a single and an wild throw from the outfield allowed Donaldson to score the tying run before the Cajuns could get the third out.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, Franklin got a leadoff hit and after a strikeout, Moore (1-2) issued a walk to Reynolds and an intentional walk to Wallner. Moore struck out Hunter Slater for the second out but Bryant Bowen hit a ball into the right center field gap to end it.
"Our hitters were certainly good enough for us to win tonight, but again, the bullpen failed," head coach Tony Robichaux said. We can't win games just doing two of the three things well. We have to do all three and that's been our problem all year. Earlier is was our offense, now it's our pitching.
The Cajuns (12-16) touched starter J. C. Keys for a run in the fourth inning on Zach Lafleur's RBI single and then went to work on Keys and reliever Mason Strickland in the fifth, scoring on an RBI double by Hayden Cantrelle, another double by Hunter Kasuls and RBI singles from Kennon Fontenot and Blake Faecher to take a 5-1 lead. Louisiana added two more runs in the sixth on a two run triple by Cantrelle to make the score 7-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Cajuns' starter Hogan Harris allowed just one run over the first five innings, but issued a walk in front of Reynolds' seventh homer of the year to make the score 7-3, which brought in Perrin. The freshman retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh before the fateful eighth inning. Harris allowed three hits and three runs over his five innings of work, with four walks and five strikeouts.
The Cajuns got a final run in the seventh on Tyler Stover's RBI single before the Eagles (20-7), who are sixth in the nation in scoring (8.7 rpg) and first in homers (32) rallied.
All nine starters for the Cajuns had at least one hit and all either scored a run or drove one in. Daniel Lahare had three hits to lead the Cajuns' 15 hit attack, while Cantrelle, Faecher and Lafleur each had two hits. Cantrelle drove in three runs and increased his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Cajuns and Eagles will close their two game series tomorrow night at 6:00 pm.