Louisiana Falls 4-2 in Rubber Match Against Southern Miss
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team lost their weekend series against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles after dropping the series finale 4-2 at Russo Park on Sunday.
Louisiana is now 6-6 this season. For the second straight game, their offense struggled at times, but they had opportunities in this game. Early scoring chances weren't converted by the Cajuns, and that came back to haunt them in this loss.
Head coach Matt Deggs praised Southern Miss but said the team will use this series loss as a learning experience.
"Tip your cap to USM over there," Deggs said. "They've got a good team and we knew that going in. They cashed in when it mattered most. We were able to keep it close, but what they did really good is capitalize on free stuff. That's what they did late. We're close, but you've got to stay the course and understand there's lessons in these hard times."
Cajuns starting pitcher Jeff Wilson got into trouble in the first inning, but he was able to strand two runners to keep the Golden Eagles scoreless.
Will Veillon got a single in Louisiana's first at-bat in the game, but he was caught stealing and two groundouts ended the frame. Wilson gave up a solo home run in the second, so the Golden Eagles took an early lead.
Louisiana had an excellent opportunity to respond after Connor Kimple crushed a leadoff triple. Instead, a groundout, a fielder's choice, and a strikeout kept the Cajuns off the board. It was a huge missed opportunity, and Southern Miss took advantage of the momentum they gained by scoring a run on three hits against Wilson. After three, the Golden Eagles' lead was 2-0.
Bo Bonds entered in the fourth and got a groundout to strand the bases loaded. Bonds was excellent out of the bullpen for the Cajuns. He threw four innings and only allowed three hits with five strikeouts. However, a run scored in the eighth inning was charged to him, and he picked up the loss.
In the fifth inning, Heath Hood broke a streak of nine straight Cajun batters retired with a single. Tyler Robertson hit a ground ball, and the shortstop went to second base to get Hood. The umpire missed the call and said Hood was out when he was safe. Jonathan Brandon cracked a double in the next at-bat, so that missed call took a run off the board. With runners at second and third with one out, a pop up and strikeout stranded both of them to keep Louisiana scoreless.
Bond's stellar play kept the door open for the Cajuns, and they finally broke through in the sixth inning. Veillon walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kyle DeBarge singled in the next at-bat to put runners at the corners, and, with one out, Kimple hit a sacrifice fly-out to score Veillon. DeBarge stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher, which allowed a two-out ground-rule double by Hood to score the tying run.
After nobody reached base in the seventh, the Golden Eagles rallied to retake the lead in the eighth inning. Bonds struck out the first batter he faced, but he gave up a double and hit two batters in a row with breaking balls to load the bases. Drew Shifflet relieved Bonds and gave up a RBI-single to make it 3-2. However, he kept them to one run with a fly-out and groundout to leave the bases loaded.
Carson Roccaforte walked with two outs in the eighth, but he was caught stealing to end the inning. Southern Miss added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly-out, so the Cajuns were down by two runs with three outs remaining in regulation. They got a two-out hit, but a strikeout ended the game.
Up next, Louisiana will try to bounce back with a pair of midweek games on the road. They start with a matchup in Ruston to face Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m.