Baseball: Cajuns Advance to Championship Game With Win Over Jackson State
LAFAYETTE, La. – Junior Jace Conrad had a career-best six RBI as the top-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team defeated Jackson State 11-1 on Sunday afternoon to advance to the Lafayette Regional championship game at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
The Cajuns (55-8) will face Mississippi State in the championship game at 8 p.m. Louisiana needs to defeat the Bulldogs twice to advance to the Super Regionals, while Mississippi State needs to win just one game.
Conrad went 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, home run and scored a run as the Ragin’ Cajuns outhit the Tigers (32-25) 9-8 in the contest. Ryan Leonards was 2-for-2 with three walks and scored four runs and Dylan Butler was 2-for-4 and scored two runs.
Senior Matt Hicks became the Cajuns third pitcher this season to register eight wins throwing five scoreless innings in relief scattering four hits and had four strikeouts.
Freshman Chris Charpentier went four innings in his first career start holding Jackson State to one run on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in a no decision. Charpentier’s early exit from the game was due to a weather delay that lasted over three hours.
Christopher Wingard was tabbed with the loss for JSU as he dropped to 2-2 on the season giving up three runs on a hit and four walks in 1.1 innings of work.
Caleb Adams gave Louisiana a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly to left center with the bases loaded scoring Leonards from third.
Jackson State evened the contest in the bottom half of the third as Gary Thomas came in to score on a throwing error by catcher Michael Strentz who was trying to throw out Tilur Smith at second. Thomas led off the inning with a double to left and then moved to third on sac bunt by Desmond Russell.
In the top of the second, Conrad sent the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded well over the fence in right for this third grand slam of the season to increase the advantage to 5-1. The home run is the eighth of the season for Conrad. Two batters later Blake Trahan came around to score from second on an error by Smith at first base.
Louisiana tacked on two more runs in the top of the third on an RBI double to right by Leonards and a sac fly to right by Trahan to make the score 8-1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Conrad singled to right with the bases loaded to plate two runs. In the next at bat, Trahan sent a sac fly to centerfield to score Leonards from third and give the Cajuns an 11-1 edge.
Louisiana Head Coach Tony Robichaux Quotes
On the game: “We swung the bat well. Charp [Chris Charpentier] got us off to a good start, that’s all we needed. We felt that even if we faced slowed stuff again, we had seen it already once, we felt we were better prepared for it. The rain delay got us. I thought we could get maybe two more out of Charp, but it is what it is. Guys did a good job of staying focused and came out after the rain delay and finished what we started.”
On the effects of the weather delay: “I think it actually helped us, in one way because it was so hot, we had a chance to go in and get re-hydrated.”
UL 2B Jace Conrad Quotes
On the team’s goal against Jackson State: “We were first of all trying to win game one and try to get some momentum going into game two.”
On the mindset playing JSU after the loss Friday: “We definitely owed them one. We let one slip earlier in the tournament, but at the same time, if won the first won and lost the second one instead, it could have gone either way. We’re prepared to play another game tonight, as well as tomorrow. We have to take it one pitch, one inning, one game at a time.
“We stuck to our approach. Our game plan was to win this game and beat Mississippi State twice.”
On starting pitcher Chris Charpentier’s performance: “He did a really good job. He’s someone we can count on. We’ve been counting on him all season. He threw well for us. He’s a freshman so he’ll have some experi- ence for next year, and he deserved it.”
On small ball: “We talked about it before the game, we felt like we didn’t do enough small ball the other night when they beat us. So we decided we would come out here, execute anything that he put on and try to get the big hit.”
UL SP Chris Charpentier Quotes
On his performance: “I stuck to our game plan, just tried to get ahead of hitters and pitch our system, and I did and it worked well.”
On if he settled after the big lead: “Yes, of course. Anybody, once you get that momentum going, can pitch after you get seven or eight runs.”
— Ragin’ Cajuns —
Cox Communications Athletics Center