MIAMI – The Ragin' Cajuns baseball team used nine extra base hits to power past FIU 14-4 in eight innings and claim the weekend series from the Panthers here Sunday morning at FIU Baseball Stadium.
Louisiana (31-14, 12-9 Sun Belt) slugged five home runs and four doubles in an 18-hit attack that gave the Cajuns their first series victory over FIU since 2007.
UL took 2-of-3 from the opposition for the fourth straight weekend and moved a season-high 17 games above .500. The Cajuns vaulted past FIU (23-19, 11-10 Sun Belt) in the Sun Belt standings and are assured of being no worse than in a tie for fourth place heading into the season's final month.
Dylan Butler homered twice and led the charge with four RBI. Dex Kjerstad posted his 20th multiple-hit game as he was one of six Cajuns hitters with multiple hits.
Louisiana climbed above 50 home runs as a team for the first time since 2009 and raised its nation-leading slugging percentage to .496.
The Cajuns travel to Houston on Tuesday, April 30 for the final midweek game of the 2013 season. Next weekend Louisiana begins its final homestand of the regular season hosting Arkansas State Friday-Sunday, May 3-5 for the first of back-to-back SBC weekends at "The Tigue".
Kody Smith, who tossed three scoreless frames while the Cajuns led stretched out to 9-2, picked up the win in relief of Ryan Wilson who started and threw 1 1/3 innings. Ben Carter put an end to a two-run frame for FIU in the fifth inning and tossed the final 3 2/3 innings to collect the save.
The Ragin' Cajuns scored first for the third straight day as Tyler Girouard singled with two outs and scored on a Seth Harrison double in the first inning. FIU answered in the bottom of the first and took a brief lead following a two-run home run by Aramis Garcia.
Louisiana recaptured the lead in the second inning when Butler and Michael Strentz homered in back-to-back at bats.
Smith relieved Wilson and began his string of three straight scoreless innings. The Cajuns bats backed him up and produced a comfortable margin.
UL began creating separation in the fourth inning. Ryan Leonards followed up a Kejrstad single with a double into the left center field gap to plate a run and move the lead to 4-2.
The Cajuns kept the pressure on FIU pitching in the fifth inning as Caleb Adams led off with a solo home run down the left field line upping the lead to 5-2. Four more runs would cross before FIU reliever Charles Cormier exited the inning. The final two runs came on a two-out, two-base error by shortstop Edwin Rios with the bases loaded that allowed the Cajuns advantage to grow to 9-2.
FIU plated one run off of Smith in the fifth inning and had the bases loaded trailing 9-3 with one out. Carter recorded the final two outs of the inning, after inheriting a bases-loaded situation, and allowed only one run on a sacrifice fly to as the Cajuns remained comfortably ahead 9-4.
Louisiana hung more numbers on the scoreboard in the sixth inning, all coming with two outs, and effectively put the game out of reach.
Back-to-back singles from Strentz and Jace Conrad started the rally. Strentz scored on an Alberto Cardenas balk, then Kjerstad delivered a two-run home run increasing the lead to 12-4.
Butler's second home run of the afternoon came in the eighth inning and it provided the two runs necessary to bring the lead to a run-rule margin at 14-4.
BASES NOTED: Sunday's game marked the final regular season Sun Belt meeting between the Cajuns and Panthers (FIU departs for Conference USA in 2014)…Louisiana improved to 4-0 in rubber games of series in 2013…The Cajuns picked up a run-rule victory on Sunday for the second straight week (won 12-2 in seven innings vs. FAU on April 21)…The five home runs and nine extra base hits were season-highs for the Cajuns…Louisiana piled up 17 extra base hits in the FIU series, while surrendering only four to the Panthers…In bouncing back from a 7-6 loss on Friday in 11 innings, the Cajuns outscored the Panthers 23-5 over the final two games to take the series…As a team, the Cajuns hit .357 for the series and slugged .652…The win brought the Cajuns road record above .500 at 10-9…Louisiana has now won the weekend series nine times in 11 weeks...The Cajuns trimmed FIU's lead in the all-time series to 27-26 and finished 14-16 in SBC regular season games vs. the Panthers at FIU Baseball Stadium.