Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Sweep Coastal Carolina; Advance to Sun Belt Championship
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns pulled off what appeared to be the impossible on Saturday. After losing 3 of 4 to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers this season, the Ragin’ Cajuns swept a pair of games, 7-3 and 4-1, from Coastal Carolina to advance to the Sun Belt Championship Sunday afternoon.
The defending Sun Belt Champions will take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at 1P CT. The winner gets an automatic birth into the NCAA Tournament.
In the first game, Louisiana found themselves trailing 3-0 heading into the 5th inning, that’s when Will Veillon, Max Marusak and Kyle DeBarge had consecutive run-scoring hits, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-3 lead.
Late last month, the Cajuns took a 2-1 lead into the 8th inning against Coastal Carolina, but couldn’t push across an insurance run. They lost 3-2 in 10 innings.
Things were different on Saturday. With 2 outs in the 8th, the Cajuns exploded for 3 runs. Heath Hood and John Taylor had back-to-back doubles before CJ Willis crushed a two-run home run to right field.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana bullpen was outstanding. Cooper Rawls started the game, giving up three runs in 2.2 innings, but that was all Coastal Carolina would score. The bullpen threw 6.1 innings of shutout baseball, as Louisiana won the game 7-3. Lefty reliever Blake Marshall finished the game off blanking the Chanticleers over the last four innings. His night wasn’t quite over.
The job was only half done. The Cajuns would have to wait until after the Southern Miss/App State game to move on to Championship Sunday. The Golden Eagles run ruled the Mountaineers 11-1 and locked up their spot Sunday in the Sun Belt Title game.
In what has to be considered a surprise move, the Ragin’ Cajuns started Jackson Nezuh on two days rest in the second game. Nezuh threw 119 pitches on Wednesday in the 6-1 win over Texas State. In the nightcap against Coastal Carolina, he went three innings, allowing just one run on two hits.
Once again, it was Blake Marshall’s turn, and this time the lefty didn’t allow a run in 5.1 innings before giving way to JT Etheridge in the 9th inning with the tying run coming to the plate. Etheridge closed the door on the Chanticleers, getting a line out and ground out.
Carson Roccaforte put Louisiana on top with a solo home run in the 1st. Coastal bounced back to tie the game in the 3rd, but the Cajuns matched the run. In the 6th, John Taylor’s two-run double to left proved to be the game-winning hit.