Baseball: Cajuns Roll Past Jackson State and Into Sunday’s Action of Baton Rouge Regional
BATON ROUGE – An offensive explosion in the late innings highlighted the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team’s 15-1 victory over Jackson State in the first elimination game of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional here Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field.
The Cajuns (42-19) responded from being held to two runs on four hits on Friday against Sam Houston State by collecting 15 runs on 19 hits against Jackson State, registering two four-run innings – in the fifth and eighth inning – and a six-run inning in the ninth. The 14-run margin of victory marked the largest victory in the NCAA Baseball Championship for the Cajuns.
With the win Louisiana will take on the loser of Saturday’s winner’s bracket final between LSU and Sam Houston State Sunday at 2 p.m. at Alex Box. Cody Boutte (8-3, 5.27 ERA) will get the start on the mound and the Cajuns will turn to the bullpen should they advance.
Austin Robichaux tossed eight innings, allowing just one run on nine hits and picked up eight strikeouts. His efforts allowed the Cajuns hitters to settle into the contest before pulling away from JSU (34-22) in the latter stages.
Dex Kjerstad led the game off with a single extending his hitting streak to a team-best 15 games. Kjerstad collected three hits for his 32nd multiple-hit game and 18th contest with at least three hits.
Five Cajuns had multiple hits, with Tyler Girouard, Chase Compton and Ryan Leonards joining Kjerstad in picking up three hits, while Michael Strentz added two hits. They all picked up at least one RBI as well.
Jace Conrad tallied four RBI and Girouard picked up three to lead the charge for UL. Conrad’s bases-clearing triple in the eighth inning stretched the lead out to 8-1.
The win gives the Cajuns a 19-win improvement from last season (23 wins in 2012) surpassing the 1997 squad (25 wins in 1996 to 43 in 1997) for the largest turnaround in the Tony Robichaux era.
JSU used three hits, a hit batsmen and a passed ball to open the scoring in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Strentz, playing left field instead of usual catcher position, cut a runner down at the plate to end the inning and prevent a second run.
Louisiana erased the deficit in the fifth inning picking up four runs on five hits highlighted by a two-run double from Girouard that scored Kjerstad and Blake Trahan. The four-run frame gave the Cajuns a 4-1 lead, their first of the regional.
The Tigers last threat came in the bottom half of the sixth inning after a leadoff single and a hit batsmen put two runners on with no outs. A 2-5-3 double play initiated by Nick Thurman on sacrifice bunt attempted helped Robichaux escape the inning without any damage.
The Cajuns added another run in the seventh inning on an RBI single from Strentz to make it 5-1.
Jackson State had runners on first and second with none out in the seventh, but another double play got the Cajuns out of a jam, this Robichaux turning the trick himself. He snared a comebacker in the air and quickly turned around to double off the runner on second and end the inning.
The double play took any momentum the Tigers had and gave it to the Cajuns who then scored four more runs in the top of the eighth to open a 9-1 lead. Conrad’s bases-clearing triple began the Cajuns on their march to the blowout triumph.
The offensive momentum continued in the ninth with six more Cajuns runs leading to the15-1 final. Compton had two hits in the inning, a leadoff triple and a single after the team batted around the order. All six RBI in the inning were from different players.
Matt Plitt would come into the game to pitch the ninth inning and sent the Tigers down in order, picking up two strikeouts.
BASES NOTED: Louisiana turned three double plays, including a nifty 2-5-3 on a Jackson State sacrifice bunt attempt in the sixth inning, to increase the season total double plays turned to 64…The Cajuns are two off the school record 66 double plays turned in 2009…The Cajuns 19 hits marked the 38th time in 61 contests that the squad reached double digits in hits…Louisiana improved to 34-4 when reaching double digit hits…Louisiana out-hit Jackson State 19-9 and with the win improved to an impressive 36-1 when out-hitting the opposition…The 14-run margin of victory surpassed the 11-run margin in a 19-8 win over Houston in the 1999 NCAA Houston Regional championship game as Louisiana’s largest victory in the NCAA Baseball Championship…With Seth Harrison and Dylan Butler out due to injury, the Cajuns made adjustments in their lineup as usual starting catcher Michael Strentz started in left field, Ryan Leonards shifted from left field to center field and Nick Thurman started at catcher for Strentz…Dex Kjerstad increased his season hits total to 99 moving him within two of the school single-season record 101 hits recorded by Nathan Nelson in 2000…Kjerstad’s hit total ranks him second on the single-season chart and leaves him one shy of joining Nelson as the only Cajuns with 100 hits in a season…Tyler Girouard’s two-run double in the fifth inning increased his RBI total to 40, his first season with 40 RBI, and gives the Cajuns six hitters with at least 40 RBI (Caleb Adams, Seth Harrison, Dex Kjerstad, Michael Strentz, Dylan Butler, Tyler Girouard)…Ryan Leonards’ RBI single in the ninth inning provided him with his 30th RBI of the season…Leonards reaching 30 RBI gives Louisiana 10 hitters with at least 30 RBI… Austin Robichaux pitched at least seven complete innings for the ninth time in 16 starts and picked up his team-leading eighth quality start and team-high ninth victory (9-2, 3.05 ERA)…Austin Robichaux became the second son of Cajuns head coach Tony Robichaux to participate in an NCAA Regional contest…Robichaux’s eldest son, Justin, took part in Cajuns regional round games in 2007 and 2010…Austin became the first of Robichaux’s sons to get a start on the mound in the NCAA’s postseason event…Louisiana and Jackson State met on the baseball diamond for the first time since the two programs played a doubleheader on April 8, 1985 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field…The Cajuns all-time NCAA Championship record moved to 21-26 which includes a 16-21 mark in the regional round.
Louisiana 15, Jackson State 1 (Jun 01, 2013 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Louisiana……….. 000 040 146 – 15 19 0 (42-19)
Jackson State……. 001 000 000 – 1 9 2 (34-22)
Pitchers: Louisiana – Robichaux, Austin; Plitt, Matt (9). Jackson State – Russell, Desmond; Rodriguez, Andre (8); Knowles, Aneko (9)
Win-Robichaux, Austin (9-2) Loss-Russell, Desmond (3-1) T-2:51 A-1909
Weather: 89, cloudy, SW @ 3 MPH
RODRIGUEZ,A. faced 5 batters in the 9th
— Ragin’ Cajuns —
Cox Communications Athletics Center