Baseball: How cold bats cost Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball in Sun Belt semifinals loss
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 29, 2021
UL bats were far too cool for far too long.
Even when they did warm up, things didn’t go right and the Cajuns fell 3-2 in 11 innings to Georgia Southern in a Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinal game Saturday in Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I thought the game was kind of a microcosm of our season, actually,” coach Matt Deggs said.
“You know – chance to drive in runs early, we leave them out there. … A chance to walk them off; miss a sign, don’t execute. Poor approach, don’t figure out a way to get it done.”
UL (32-23), No. 1 seed in the West, had two hits through eight innings against the East's No. 2 seed as Eagles starter Jordan Jackson retired 18 straight from the second through the seventh.
The Cajuns finished with five hits altogether.
Their season likely ended with the loss. The 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced Monday morning.
Georgia Southern (34-22), the East’s No. 2 seed, will face South Alabama (32-20), No. 1 seed in the East, in Sunday’s championship game (1 p.m., ESPN3). The Jaguars advanced with a 5-4 win over Texas-Arlington, the West’s No. 2 seed.
'You've got to finish them'
The Cajuns had the top of the order up in the ninth when Nick Jones hit Tyler Robertson. Brennan Breaux moved Robertson to third on a single, and Robertson dove home to tie it 2-2 as Ben Fitzgerald hit into a fielder’s choice.
But UL stranded Breaux on second after a strikeout, a foul out and a flyball out.
Georgia Southern went back ahead when Parker Biederer’s bunt single off Blake Marshall, who relieved Spencer Arrighetti, scored Jordan Swan with one out in the 11th.
Bobby Lada doubled with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, then moved to third when Carson Roccaforte reached on a throwing error. But Jay Thompson got pinch-hitter Jonathan Brandon to ground out to short to end it.
“You’ve got somebody on the ropes like that,” Deggs said, “you’ve got to finish them.
“We didn’t have great approach today. We just didn’t.”
Five Cajun relievers – Hayden Durke, Chipper Menard, Sam Riola, Brandon Talley and Jacob Schultz – combined for five scoreless innings.
UL starter Carter Robinson retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings, but Biederer led off the fifth with a home run down the right field line to make it 2-1.
Robinson exited after the homer. Riola put the side down in order in the sixth and seventh innings before leaving with a man on and one out in the eighth, but Talley cleaned up.
The Cajuns stranded a man at third with one out in the first.
Georgia Southern broke through in the second, when Swan scored on Biederer’s single. But UL prevented a second run when Robertson threw Jarrett Brown out at the plate.
The Cajuns answered in the second as Lada scored from third when Roccaforte stole second.
How they got there
The Cajuns made it to the semifinals with pool play wins over Texas State and Appalachian State.
UL used its top three pitchers – starter Connor Cooke, Talley and usual starter Arrighetti, who closed – in Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Mountaineers. Fitzgerald broke things open for the Cajuns with a grand slam in the eighth.