May 26, 2013 11:45 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - Florida Atlantic score nine runs in the second inning to distance themselves from the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team and post a 16-8 victory in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament championship game here at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field on Sunday afternoon.
The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for Louisiana (41-18) and prevented the squad from claiming its first SBC Tournament title since 1998.
The Ragin' Cajuns now await their NCAA Regionals assignment which will be announced at 11 a.m. (CDT) on Monday, May 27.
Dex Kjerstad posted his 30th multiple-hit game and 17th with at least three base hits with a 3-for-4 performance. He extended his season-high hitting streak to 13 games, one shy of the team-best 14 games shared by Tyler Girouard and Ryan Leonards.
All nine FAU players scored a run in the game, all by the third inning. Following a two-run top of the first, the Owls erupted for nine in the second. Mitch Morales brought home the first run with a bunt single with Levi Meyer on third base. Mark Nelson and Tyler Rocklein knocked in RBI hits and Sanger doubled over the left-fielder's head to bring in a pair.
Brendon Sanger stole third and scored on a throwing error by Michael Strentz and Ricky Santiago cleaned the bases in his second at-bat of the inning with a two-run homer down the right field line.
The Owls (39-20) tacked on a couple more in the third inning to increase their lead to 13-1. Nathan Pittman led off the third inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on a single by Geoff Jimenez. Nelson then singled up the middle to score Pittman, and Rocklein hit a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Jimenez.
The Cajuns got one back in the third inning on a solo home run by Kjerstad to left field to make it 13-2. It was the 12th homer of the year for the Amarillo, Texas native and the Cajuns' 71st home run of the season.
FAU added another run in the top of the fourth as the Cajuns went to Matt Hicks out of the bullpen. Hicks pitched 3.1 innings of relief allowing one run in the fourth and two in the seventh. He gave the Cajuns a chance to get back in the game in the middle innings as he allowed just three hits in his appearance.
The Cajuns (41-18) continued to battle at the plate and cut the lead to 14-4 in the fourth inning on a two-run double by Blake Trahan down the left field line. The hit scored Ryan Leonards who singled to right, and Tyler Girouard who singled through the right side. The Cajun threat ended with the bases loaded and a fly out by Jace Conrad.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Owls got back as Pittman tripled down the right field to score Morales after he walked in the seventh inning. Pittman scored on a groundout giving FAU a 16-4 edge.
The Cajuns responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to lower FAU's lead to ten at 16-6. Seth Harrison singled to center and scored on an RBI double by Caleb Adams into the gap in right-center. Adams then scored on a fielding error at third base in the next at-bat.
In the eighth, Chase Compton teed-off on the Cajuns' 72nd home run of the season, a long-ball to right field to make it 16-7 in favor of the Owls.
At 3:59 p.m. the game underwent a one hour and 46 minute lightning delay. Strikes continued until 5:07 local time and the game resumed at approximately 5:52 p.m. The Owls were held scoreless in the final two frames while the Cajuns were able to add another run in the bottom of the ninth.
Sunday's contest marked the first in the Sun Belt Tournament between the two programs. The win allowed FAU to take an 11-10 lead in the all-time series.
BASES NOTED: Dex Kjerstad finished the Sun Belt Tournament hitting 11-of-15 (.733) with 22 total bases in 16 at bats...The Cajuns lost for only the fourth time in 37 games when the squad posted double digit hits...The Cajuns were making their first appearance in the Sun Belt Tournament title game since the 2007 event in Mobile...Four Cajuns were named to the all-tournament team - Jace Conrad, Dex Kjerstad, Austin Robichaux and Ryan Wilson...Chase Compton's home run in the eighth inning marked his 30th RBI of the season giving Louisiana nine hitters with 30 RBI...Dex Kjerstad increased his season hits total to 94 moving him within seven of the school record 101 recorded by Nathan Nelson in 2000...The Cajuns picked up six more extra base hits increasing their season total to 228, tops in the Sun Belt Conference.
Florida Atlantic 16, Louisiana 8 (May 26, 2013 at Lafayette, La.)
Florida Atlantic.... 292 100 200 - 16 16 3 (39-20)
Louisiana........... 101 200 211 - 8 12 2 (41-18)
Pitchers: Florida Atlantic - Gomber, Austin; Miller, Kyle(4); Sylvestri, Michael(5); Koji, Alex(8); Alexander, Kevin (9). Louisiana - Smith, Kody; Cockrell, Cord (2); Frith, Ben (2); Carter, Ben (2); Hicks, Matt (4); Mayer, Kendall (7); Plitt, Matt (9)
Win-Gomber, Austin(7-4) Loss-Smith, Kody(1-3) T-3:17 A-2528
HR FAU - Santiago, Ricky (4)
HR UL - Kjerstad, Dex (12); Compton, Chase (5)
Weather: 83, partly cloudy, SSE @ 5 MPH
Left field umpire = Eddie Newsom
Right field umpire = John Bennett