MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Louisiana’s Kyle DeBarge had quite the debut in the 2022 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Baseball Championship.
 
Playing in his first game in the Sun Belt postseason, the freshman shortstop went 4-for-4 at the plate with a pair of RBI and two runs scored as Louisiana pounded out 15 hits and defeated No. 5-seeded South Alabama, 9-1, in a quarterfinal game on Friday at Riverwalk Stadium.
 
Brandon Talley and two relievers combined to scatter 10 hits and fan nine batters as fourth-seeded Louisiana (34-21) advanced to Saturday semifinal contest at 7 p.m., against the winner of top-seeded Texas State and 10th-seeded ULM.
 
“We came out ready to play obviously, we had several days to think about it,” Louisiana head coach Matt Deggs said. “I thought our speed really benefited us tonight, it’s hard to get 15 knocks on 33 at-bats. We were able to use our short game, we were able to leg out double play balls to keep innings alive, we were able to take some extra bases. We benefited from some freebies from them, which is uncharacteristic of those guys, and we caught some breaks tonight too.”
 
DeBarge opened the day with a two-out single in the first inning after the Ragin’ Cajuns built a 2-0 lead before hitting an RBI single up the middle in the fourth off South Alabama starter Matt Boswell (6-5). DeBarge would beat out an infield single in the sixth inning for Louisiana before his RBI double down the left-field line in the eighth gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 7-1 lead.
 
“It’s always good, we talk about winning every inning we can,” DeBarge said. “We also talk about scoring first, so when we put up a zero and got out of that (first) inning, and then came and scored first, that was our first goal of the game, check that box.”
 
Heath Hood went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI triples for Louisiana, which won its 10th game in the last 12 contests in SBC postseason play against South Alabama (31-23).
 
Louisiana used its speed in the opening frame to take a 2-0 lead after Connor Kimple was hit by a pitch and Max Marusak beat out a bunt up the first-base line. Kimple would score when Carson Roccaforte’s grounder slipped under the glove of Jaguar second baseman Erick Orbeta before Marusak scored on Tyler Robertson’s fielder’s choice.
 
Robertson, playing in his hometown, led off the fourth with a double to center for Louisiana before scoring on DeBarge’s single up the middle. Hood gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-0 lead when he scored from third on an attempted double steal.
 
Louisiana took a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning when Hood tripled off Jaguar reliever Jackson Boyd and added four more runs after South Alabama cut the lead to 5-1 on Cameron Tissue’s RBI double.
 
Kimple capped off a 10-pitch at-bat with a single to left in the seventh for Louisiana which would drive in Warnner Rincones before DeBarge, Hood and Julian Brock each drove in runs in a three-run eighth.
 
Brandon Talley pitched the opening 4.2 innings for Louisiana, scattering six hits and fanning three. Bo Bonds (4-3) earned the win for Louisiana after pitching 1.1 innings before Dylan Theut pitched the final three innings to earn his second save of the year.
 
Orbeta, Santi Montiel and Diego Altamirano each had two hits for South Alabama, which was looking to repeat its SBC title. Boswell, who defeated Louisiana earlier in the season, suffered the loss after scattering six hits and fanning three batters in 5.0 innings.