HOUSTON –CJ Willis and Conor Higgs had three hits apiece while Carson Roccaforte belted his first home run of the season as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns erupted for all of its runs in the first six innings and cruised to an 11-2 win over Rice on Saturday at Reckling Park.
The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday. Louisiana (2-0) will send newcomer Jackson Nezuh to the mound with Rice (0-2) countering with southpaw J.D. McCracken.
The game will be streamed live on CUSA.tv (subscription required) with fans able to listen to the game in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5) and worldwide on the Varsity Network app.
Louisiana, which collected 16 hits off five Rice pitchers, scored twice in the first inning off Owls starter Justin Long (0-1) when Kyle DeBarge was hit on the first pitch of the game before scoring on Roccaforte’s double down the right-field line. After Julian Brock reached on an error to put runners on the corner, freshman Caleb Stelly lifted a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Roccaforte to score for a 2-0 lead.
“I was hoping that’s what we’d see from us (offensively) as we’d play a little faster, a little harder … a little looser today and that’s exactly what we got,” Louisiana head coach Matt Deggs said. “We care a lot and pressed at times last night. Look, they (Rice) pitched us well too. But today was a new day and we were riding momentum after last night so we were able to sustain it.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns sent nine men to the plate in the second inning and increased their lead to 6-0 as Heath Hood drove in Will Veillon with a two-out RBI single before Roccaforte chased Long with a two-run homer to right.
Hood, who went 2-for-5, led off the fourth with a triple for Louisiana before scoring on Brock’s RBi single up the middle for a 7-0 lead before the Ragin’ Cajuns added a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings for an 11-0 cushion.
Higgs, who went 3-for-3 after entering the game as a pinch-hitter, led off the fifth with a double to left and scored on Willis’ RBI single to right, his second hit in a 3-for-3 performance with a walk at the plate. Brock would drive in Willis with a sacrifice fly to right to give Louisiana a 9-0 lead before RBI doubles by Higgs and DeBarge in the sixth gave the Ragin’ Cajuns an 11-0 lead.
Cooper Rawls (1-0), the second of five pitchers used by Louisiana, earned the win after tossing 2.0 innings of scoreless relief. Starter Blake McGehee pitched 3.0 innings and scattered a pair of hits in his collegiate debut for Louisiana while Jerry Couch and David Christie each fanned a team-high two batters in a combined three innings on the mound.
Long, a converted catcher who was making his first career start on the mound, allowed five earned runs in 1.2 innings for Rice to suffer the loss. Jack Riedel went 2-for-5 with an RBI to lead Rice’s nine-hit attack while Paul Smith drew four walks with an RBI groundout in the ninth.
Single-game tickets are available by visiting the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome or purchasing by visiting Account Manager. For more information call the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome at (337) 265-2104.
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