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Baseball: UL defeats Texas State 11-4 in Sun Belt Tournament

The Advertiser, May 23, 2014

MOBILE, Ala. – The second-ranked and top-seeded Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team defeated fourth-seeded Texas State 11-4 in a winner’s bracket game at the Sun Belt Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Stanky Field to put themselves in good shape to make a return trip to the SBC championship game.

The Cajuns (51-7, 26-4 Sun Belt) have now won eight straight games and will have Friday off as they await the winner of Friday’s ULM/Texas State elimination game. The Ragin’ Cajuns will face the winner of that game on Saturday at 9 a.m.

The win moves the Cajuns one back of tying the Sun Belt record for wins in a season set by South Florida in 1986.

Louisiana pounded out 16 hits in the contest with Caleb Adams, Jace Conrad, Ryan Leonards and Blake Trahan each registering three hits. Adams and Conrad each had two RBI, while Leonards scored three runs. The Cajuns also had a game-high eight stolen bases with Adams and Conrad each swiping a pair of bases.

"Our hitters did a great job of grinding the whole ballgame against a pitcher that really threw well against us last time," head coach Tony Robichaux said.

Matt Hicks, Riley Cooper, Martin Anderson and Chris Griffitt combined to throw 6.2 scoreless innings to close out the game after starter Carson Baranik came out in the third inning. Louisiana pitchers struck out 14 Bobacts hitters in the game.

Hicks earned his seventh victory of the season with his 3.1 scoreless innings. The senior allowed just one hit and struck out four in the outing. With the win, Hicks became the fourth Cajuns pitcher to record seven or more wins this year.

"Hicks really turned the momentum of the game around for us," Robichaux added. "From that point on, I thought our bullpen did a great job of never letting them get into a rhythm again."

Lucas Humpal was tabbed with the loss for Texas State (29-27) giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings with four strikeouts.

Austin O’Neal gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the first singling in Cory Geisler.

The Ragin’ Cajuns answered in the bottom half of the first plating three runs on three hits to jump out to a 3-1 advantage. Conrad tied the game with a single to right scoring Leonards from second. In the next at bat, Adams doubled to left center to score Conrad. Adams came home to score the final run of the inning on a Greg Davis ground ball to third.

After a scoreless second inning, Texas State regained the lead in the third on a three-run homer to right by Garrett Mattlage to make the score 4-3. The Bobcats threated to add to their advantage in the inning with runners on second and third and two outs, but Hicks came on in relief of Baranik and got a pair of strikeouts to end the threat.

Louisiana responded again in the bottom half of the third as Adams singled in Conrad to even the game at 4-all. After Adams stole second, Davis brought him home on a single to left to put the Ragin’ Cajuns back in front for good, 5-4.

Conrad and Chase Compton added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on a pair of RBI singles to extend the lead to 7-4.

In the top of the sixth, Texas State had runners on second and third with one out. Like Hicks did earlier in the game, Anderson came on and tallied back-to-back strikeouts to close out the inning.

The Cajuns picked a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, when Leonards scored on a wild pitch and Trahan also came across on a same-play throwing error to make the score 9-4.

The final two runs of the game came on a Trahan RBI single in the seventh and a stolen base by Dylan Butler that was followed by a two-base error.

Senior Cody Boutte will make the start for the Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday. Boutte is 7-0 with a 2.77 ERA, which ranks first among starters in the Sun Belt Conference.