By: Matt Hebert
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Nine runs produced off 10 hits in the ninth inning carried the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team to a 15-10 come-from-behind victory over UALR here Sunday afternoon in a Sun Belt series finale at Gary Hogan Field.
The Ragin' Cajuns rally off the Trojans bullpen began in the eighth inning when Tyler Girouard doubled to end a string of 11 straight batters retired by Bubba Cooper and scored on the next at bat when Seth Harrison singled cutting the deficit to 9-6.
Louisiana (24-11, 8-7 Sun Belt) pulled even off of UALR closer Dillon Moritz in the ninth inning when Michael Strentz began a string of six straight run producing hits with an RBI single to center field that produced a 9-9 tie.
Dylan Butler broke the tie with his second base hit after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and when Ryan Leonards doubled to left field to end the hit parade the Cajuns lead had grown to 15-9.
In claiming the victory from UALR (16-18, 5-10 Sun Belt) the Ragin' Cajuns scored 10 runs off 13 hits over the final two innings.
Dex Kjerstad tied the school record with five base hits which included three doubles. Leonards posted two hits in the ninth inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.
Kendall Mayer held the Trojans scoreless in the eighth inning to keep the Cajuns within striking distance, then pitched the ninth inning to collect the victory.
A day after picking up the save in UALR's lone win of the series, Moritz was taxed for six runs and five hits while recording only one out during his stint in the ninth inning.
Louisiana returns to action on Tuesday, April 16 in Thibodaux, La., taking on Nicholls State in a midweek game at Ray E. Didier Field. The next night, UL completes a suspended game with Northwestern State at Brown-Stroud Field in Natchitoches at 6:30 p.m., before hosting Florida Atlantic in a Sun Belt series Friday-Sunday, April 19-21 at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.
Louisiana defeated UALR in a Sun Belt series for the 17th time in 20 meetings. The Cajuns collected their first road SBC series win of 2013.
Three straight singles to start the bottom of the second inning plated a run, then two more crossed on a two-out double by Thionnet as UALR gave starting pitcher Chad Bradford a 3-0 lead.
The Cajuns answered in the third inning, beginning with a leadoff home run by Chase Compton.
Louisiana then took its turn stringing together three straight singles to garner a second run in the frame, cutting the deficit to 3-2 with one out. That was followed by back-to-back walks to Leonards and Girouard to force home the tying run and Bradford was relieved by Cooper.
Cooper issued a bases-loaded walk to Harrison bringing home the Cajuns fourth run of the inning and the Trojans early lead was gone.
UL scored a second straight inning as a Kjerstad RBI double in the fourth inning upped the lead to 5-3. UALR responded in the bottom half as Myles Parma blooped an RBI single into shallow right field to return the margin to one run.
An error and another two-out hit by the Trojans cost Louisiana the lead in the fifth inning. The error extended the Trojans half of the inning to an at bat for John Clark who launched a two-run home run to left field for a 6-5 UALR lead.
Austin Pfeiffer gave the UALR bullpen what seemed to be comfortable lead in the sixth inning when his three-run home run staked the hosts to a 9-5 advantage.
Cooper extended a string of 11 straight batters retired into the eighth inning to protect the Trojans' lead. Girouard ended the string with his leadoff double to start the eighth.
The game began to get away from the Trojans as the Cajuns cashed in on Harrison's single to draw within three runs, then had seven straight batters reach base in the ninth inning before a Trojans reliever registered an out.
BASES NOTED: Dex Kjerstad became the first Cajun to tie the school record of five hits since Kolin Hatfield in March 2007 at FIU…The Cajuns 19 hits marked the 20th time the squad recorded double digit hits this season…All nine of the Cajuns starters collected at least one base hit…The nine runs in the ninth inning marked the second time Louisiana recorded that many runs in an inning in 2013 (2/20 vs. Northwestern State)…The two teams combined for 25 runs and 33 hits…A total of 14 extra base hits were slugged; the Cajuns eight extra base hits tied a season-high (4/6 vs. Troy)…Dex Kjerstad collected his team-leading 14th multiple-hit game and now owns a two-hit, three-hit, four-hit and five-hit game…After pinch hitting for Chase Compton in the eighth inning, Ryan Leonards was moved to first base for the first time in his career…Dylan Butler leads the Cajuns with four pinch hits (4-for-7)…Chase Compton finished with a team-high six hits in the series…Louisiana hit .358 for the series, marking the second straight weekend the squad's average was above .350 for a series (.351 vs. Troy).