MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Payton Eeles went 4-for-5 to lead a 12-hit attack and top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Coastal Carolina got a pair of home runs from the bottom of the order to claim a 6-3 win over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the 2023 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship on Thursday at Riverwalk Stadium.
Louisiana (37-21), which dropped just its second game in eight contests since the tournament was moved to Montgomery, will face fifth-seeded Texas State (36-22) in an elimination game on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Coastal (39-17) broke a scoreless contest in the third inning with three runs beginning with Graham Brown’s RBI double off Louisiana starter Carson Fluno (3-1). Derek Bender then reached on a double past a diving Carson Roccaforte to plate Brown and Caden Bodine for a 3-0 lead.
Blake Barthol, the No. 9 batter in a loaded CCU lineup, added a two-run home run in the fourth for a 5-0 lead before Ty Dooley, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, added a solo shot in the sixth.
Louisiana plated a pair of runs in the sixth inning after Kyle DeBarge singled and moved to third on Roccaforte’s 45th career double. DeBarge would score on Conor Higgs’ RBI grounder to second before Julian Brock drove in Roccaforte with a single up the middle.
Will Veillon added a double and scored on CJ Willis’ RBI grounder in the seventh off CCU starter Riley Eikhoff (2-1).
Eikhoff scattered five hits and struck out four in 6.2 innings for the Chanticleers. Will Smith pitched 2.0 innings in relief before Teddy Sharkey got the final out with the tying run on deck to earn his 10th save.
Brock led Louisiana at the plate going 2-for-3. Fluno dropped his first collegiate decision after scattering 11 hits and six runs in 5.1 innings. Jerry Couch, Blake Marshall and JT Etheridge combined to allow one hit with four strikeouts over the final 3.2 innings.