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Baseball: Farquhar battles for 5-4 victory

NEW ORLEANS – Danny Farquhar admitted he didn’t have his best stuff in Thursday night’s first two innings.

The mistake that New Orleans’ Privateers made was not making him pay for his early struggles.

UL’s sophomore righthander settled in quite nicely, retiring 14 straight batters at one point, and turned in the first complete game by a Ragin’ Cajun pitcher this year as the Cajuns took a 5-4 victory over the host Privateers in the opening game of their Sun Belt Conference series.

Farquhar (6-3) struck out a career high 13 batters, two of them in the ninth inning when UNO plated two runs on two hits and a passed ball. With only the one-run advantage, Farquhar retired the last three batters to give the Cajuns (39-13, 22-6) their seventh straight win.

"He was just outstanding," said UNO coach Tom Walter. "The first couple of innings he was coming mostly straight forward, but after that he started changing arm angles and mixing in his breaking ball, and we didn’t do a very good job of adjusting."

The Privateers got single runs in the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead, but after a one-out single and a quick pickoff in the third Farquhar didn’t allow another baserunner until a one-out walk – his only free pass of the game – in the eighth inning.

"I started getting comfortable, and they let me settle in and pitch the way I want to," said Farquhar, who now has 25 strikeouts in his last two appearances. "They’re free swingers, and against them you just try to keep the ball down.

"With two strikes I was trying to miss off the plate and they were swinging at them."

"He really pitched well," said Cajun coach Tony Robichaux. "Because we’ve pitched so well out of the bullpen, we’ve been able to move him out of there and get him into the rotation, and he’s responded."

The Cajuns claimed the lead with a single run in the third and two in the fourth on Matt Casbon’s opposite-field single that plated Jefferies Tatford and Nolan Gisclair.

"After the first at-bat I had, I decided I’d sit back and try to go the other way," Casbon said. "I was in the right place at the right time, and after that Danny did a great job of keeping them in check the whole game."

UNO starter Bryan Cryer also held the Cajuns in check with a 10-strikeout performance, scattering six hits over seven innings, but the Cajuns got two runs in the eighth inning. Scott Hawkins had a ground-ball single, Jefferies Tatford a bunt single and Nolan Gisclair an infield single off reliever Ryan O’Shea with one out, and Casbon put a one-strike bunt down the third-base line.

UNO third baseman T. J. Baxter fielded and threw to the plate, but the throw got by catcher Josh Tarnow and both Hawkins and Tatford scored.

Those runs became huge in the bottom of the ninth when Baxter led off with a bunt single and Johnny Giavotella sliced a double off a diving Gisclair’s glove in right field. Farquhar struck out backup first baseman Jerad Comarda for the first out, but the ball got by Cajun catcher Jonathan Lucroy and both runners scored to make it 5-4 before Farquhar got two quick outs.

"Coach asked me if I felt like going back out," Farquhar said of the ninth inning. "I still felt pretty strong."

Baxter’s first-inning single scored Brandon Bowser and Jarrod Ware’s two-out double plated Joey Butler for UNO’s first two runs, but Josh Logan had a leadoff double and scored on Devon Bourque’s ground ball in the third. After UL’s two fourth-inning runs, Cryer himself retired 10 in a row in what became a pitchers’ duel.