University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Defeat Rice Owls In Series Opener
The University of Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team defeated the Rice Owls by a score of 7-3 on Friday, February 26, 2021. Hayden Durke received his first win as a starting pitcher for the Cajuns this season, with a little help from Brandon Talley who recorded five strikeouts in the last two innings.
The Ragin' Cajuns got off to as hot of a start as you can during their first chance at the plate, with Tyler Robertson hitting a solo-homer off of the first pitch he saw. Check out a clip of the shot via @RaginCajunsBSB on Twitter below.
They extended their lead to leave the score 3-0 after one inning, as Jonathan Brandon drove in two with a single. @RaginCajunsBSB provided the updates on Twitter all game long.
But, Rice came back strong in their next at-bat by evening things up to 3-3.
Brennan Breaux continued to prove that experience counts, helping the Cajuns regain the lead with a two-run double. That made the score 5-3 with UL back in front.
With the Owls struggling to get runners around, the Ragin' Cajuns piled on the runs as Carson Roccaforte shined like he does and drove in another runner making it 6-3 after the 4th inning.
In an impressive effort to secure his position as the winning pitcher, Hayden Durke struck out the last batter of the 5th inning on his 100th pitch. Durke showed some serious grit throughout his starting performance, sometimes struggling to find the strike zone. He was able to dig-in with runners on in multiple innings and find the outs necessary to keep his team ahead. He will continue to be a dominant force for the Cajuns throughout this season, as he proved how much stamina and tenacity he has in this game.
Jeff Wilson came into the came to close out the top of the 6th inning and one of the team's best hitters so far this season, Connor Kimple, sent a solo shot over the left-center field wall to give even more cushion to the UL squad.
Wilson rocked-steady and didn't allow any runs in the top of the 7th. The Cajuns couldn't get anything going in the bottom half of that inning either.
Rice found more luck in the top of the 8th inning, as they led off with a double thanks to an error that let a ball bleed into left field. That would end Wilson's night and UL would bring Brandon Talley to the mound. Talley has been the Cajuns' most solid arm out of the bullpen so far this season and quickly proved that to be true, striking out the next three hitters he faced to end the bottom of the 8th. The Cajuns would head back to the plate for what they hoped would be their final chance to hit.
UL struck out twice to begin the bottom of the 8th inning, but Kimple ended up getting on first with a walk. His time on base was short lived, as Kimple attempted to steal second base on the first pitch to Roccaforte and was thrown out to end the inning.
As the top of the 9th began, the Ragin' Cajuns were looking for three outs and the Rice Owls were looking for runs. Talley saved his best stuff for last, throwing three straight strikes past the Rice lead-off hitter. He wasn't stopping there, striking out the second batter of the inning as well.
Unfortunately, Talley wasn't able to go 6 for 6 with strikeouts to end the game. He walked a Rice batter off of a full-count, giving the Owls only a slight glimmer of hope. Things got a bit sloppy at the end with Sam Riola taking a tough one-hopper off the body and rushed to get a bad throw off to second base. No outs came off of the play and Rice had runners on first and third base thanks to the errant throw.
Thankfully, Riola was able to make up for it with a little help from his buddy Brennan Breaux over at first base with a ground-ball out to end the game and give the Ragin' Cajuns the win.
Hayden Durke would get his credit for the win as the Cajuns ended the game with 9 hits and 3 errors. Rice was able to put out 7 hits on only 1 error, but took the series opening loss by a score of 7-3.
The Ragin' Cajuns will go to the Saturday game with a season record of (4-2), with the Rice Owls falling to (2-2) on the season.
For a full schedule of where you can hear Ragin' Cajuns athletics broadcasted this weekend, click HERE.