Cajuns Get Five in the Ninth to Stun Rice, 7-6
The 2015 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns never feel as though they're out of a game.
Not even when they're down four runs going into the ninth against a legendary program.
The #3 Cajuns took advantage of Rice mistakes and had two clutch hits, scoring five times in the ninth inning to defeat the #2 seeded Owls, 7-6, before 2,839 mostly Cajun fans at Cougar Park in Houston in the first round game of the NCAA Houston Regional.
The Cajuns (40-21) trailed 6-2 going into the ninth inning but got their first break when Kyle Clement struck out against Rice reliever Matt Dittman but reached first base on a wild pitch. Dittman then walked Stefan Trosclair and Tyler Girouard to load the bases. Reliever Austin Orewiler was greeted by an Evan Powell RBI single and a two run single by Greg Davis to get the Cajuns within a run. Nick Thurman then bunted the runners over but reached when Orewiler's throw to first was off line, reloading the bases. Dylan Butler walked to tie the game and Blake Trahan then delivered pinch runner Jam Williams with a sacrifice fly for the game winner.
Will Bacon (6-2) who allowed four hits and three runs in 3.2 innings in relief of Cajuns' starter Wyatt Marks got the win. Freshman Dylan Moore retired the Owls in order for his school record 12th save of the season.
Rice (35-21) got on the board first when Marks issued back to back walks to Charlie Warren and Ford Stainback. John Clay Reeves bunted the runners to second and third and Connor Tekyl's sacrifice fly gave Rice a 1-0 lead. Stainbeck scored on a passed ball to give the Owls a 2-0 advantage.
Rice made it 3-0 in the fifth when Kirby Taylor singled with one out. John Williamson singled Taylor to third. Grayson Lewis then popped up a bunt but the Cajuns couldn't make a play as Taylor scored.
The Cajuns finally got on the board in the sixth off Rice starter Blake Fox when Butler drew a one out walk. Trahan was thrown out trying to bunt his way on with Butler taking second. Joe Robbins then delivered Butler with a double just inside the third base bag to make the score 3-1. The Cajuns got closer in the seventh when Tyler Girouard reached on a one out single. Powell greeted Ditman with a double and Girouard scored on a Davis ground out to make the score 3-2.
Rice got to Bacon in the seventh on a leadoff single by Ryan Chandler. A sacrifice and a ground ball moved Chandler to third and he scored on a perfect bunt single by Lewis. The Owls appeared to put the game away in the eighth when Stainback singled and Reeves sacrificed Tekyl's fly ball moved Stainback to third and Tristan Gray walked Chandler then doubled down the right field line to score both runners and give Rice what looked like an insurmountable lead at 6-2.
But, as has been the case on many occasions this season, the Cajuns refused to believe they were done.
Powell led the Cajuns with three hits in the game with a run scored and an RBI. Davis added two hits and drove in three runs, while Butler, Robbins and Trahan had one RBI each. Chandler and Taylor each had two hits for Rice, with Chandler and Lewis each driving in a pair of runs
The Cajuns will now meet the winner of the Friday game between #1 Houston and #4 Houston Baptist. That game will be at 7:00pm Saturday. Rice faces the UH/HBU loser in an elimination game at 2:30.