LAFAYETTE – Max Marusak led an 11-hit attack going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns built a 9-0 lead after seven innings and claimed a 9-5 win over Texas State to claim the Sun Belt Conference series between the teams on Saturday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Carson Fluno (2-0) pitched 5.0 innings of shutout ball with seven strikeouts while Julian Brock and Heath Hood belted home runs as Louisiana (34-18, 16-10 SBC) moved into sole possession of third place in the SBC standings.
The final game of the three-game series, and final home game of the 2023 season for Louisiana, is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with fans able to listen to the game in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5) and worldwide on the Varsity Network app.
Senior Jake Hammond (3-3, 3.67 ERA) will take the mound in Sunday’s home finale with Texas State (33-18, 15-11 SBC) countering with right-hander Tony Robie (5-2, 3.91 ERA).
Louisiana needed three pitches to score in near-identical fashion in the first inning of Friday’s 7-3 victory as Marusak led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt to the mound by Kyle DeBarge and scored on Hood’s RBI grounder to short.
The Ragin’ Cajuns played small ball in the third to generate a run off Texas State starter Zeke Wood (2-3) as CJ Willis led off the inning with a bunt single up the third-base line, Marusak followed with a bunt single up the first base line and DeBarge reached on a bunt single back to the mound. Hood followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in Willis, who slid in under the tag at home to give Louisiana a 2-0 lead.
Marusak led off the fifth for Louisiana with a ground-rule double and moved to third on DeBarge’s sacrifice bunt. With Hood at the plate, Wood uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Marusak to score and increase the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 3-0.
Brock gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-0 lead in the sixth when he connected on a 2-and-0 pitch from Wood and belted a 446-foot blast to left field for his 11th home run of the season.
Louisiana wasn’t done in the inning after Will Veillon hit a two-out single, stole second and moved to third on the first of two Bobcat errors in the inning. After Willis drew a walk and stole second, Marusak’s eventual inning-ending, pop-up to third was dropped and allowing both runners to score for a 6-0 lead.
Hood opened a second straight, three-run inning for Louisiana in the seventh when he led off the frame with his fifth home run of the season with a solo blast to left off Nathan Medrano. Conor Higgs added an infield single and eventually scored on Carson Roccaforte’s fielder’s choice for an 8-0 lead before Willis drove in John Taylor with an RBI single to right.
After a 42-minute lightning delay in the seventh inning, Texas State got on the board in the eighth with three runs beginning with Chase Mora’s RBI single to center field. August Ramirez added an RBI single for the Bobcats before Daylan Pena scored on a wild pitch.
Jose Gonzalez added a two-run home run for Texas State – the 32nd of his career to move into second place in school history behind Paul Goldschmidt – in the ninth before David Christie fanned Mora to end the game.
Christie pitched the final 4.0 innings for Louisiana to earn his second career save while Veillon and Willis had two hits each and went a combined 4-for-7 with three runs scored in the bottom two spots in the lineup. Hood swiped his 33rd base of the season for the Ragin’ Cajuns, moving into a tie with Nathan Nelson (2000) for fifth place in a single season.
Wood allowed four runs on six hits in 5.1 innings for Texas State. Gonzalez finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and two runs scored for Texas State with Kameron Weil coming off the bench to go 2-for-2.
Single-game tickets are available by visiting the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome or purchasing by visiting Account Manager [am.ticketmaster.com]. For more information call the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome at (337) 265-2104.
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