LAFAYETTE – Mason Zambo hit a game-tying, two-run single in the eighth inning before freshman Caleb Stelly delivered a two-out, RBI single to cap a three-run frame and lead the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over BYU in the home opener on Wednesday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Blake Marshall pitched the final 1.2 innings and struck out a career-high five batters to notch his first victory in nearly two years as Louisiana (3-1) overcame a 3-1 deficit after BYU (2-3) scored twice in the seventh to snap a 1-1 tie.
The second game of the four-game series is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. Louisiana will send right-hander Tommy Ray (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound with BYU countering with right-hander Jack Sterner (1-0, 1.29 ERA).
The game can be heard in the Acadiana Region on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network and worldwide on the Varsity Network App. The game will also be streamed live on ESPN+ with live results available at CajunStats.com.
“They don't panic,” Louisiana head coach Matt Deggs said of his team. “They kept their heads about them and it was a total team effort, and for the freshman (Stelly) to come off the bench right there and gather that hit, that was good. Heath Hood was tremendous tonight, (Mason) Zambo settled in after that first at-bat and showed us the guy we've seen all spring. He comes up with the big game-tying hit.
“We just weren't clicking tonight offensively, and we can click, but sometimes you've got to tip your cap to the guy across the field and I thought that young man gave them a tremendous start.”
Louisiana finished with four hits in the game, with two coming in the eighth after BYU starter Ben Hansen held the Ragin’ Cajuns in check for the first seven innings. The Ragin’ Cajuns trailed early 1-0 on Austin Deming’s two-out RBI double to left in the first inning before Hood recorded Louisiana’s first hit of the game with a two-out double in the third.
Brendan Moody, earning his first career start, turned in a quality start for Louisiana scattering four hits and striking out eight batters in 6.0 innings of work. The junior right-hander retired nine straight batters after Ozzie Pratt’s bloop single to left before getting out of a jam in the sixth inning with a pair of strikeouts after BYU put runners on first and second with one out.
“We defended great tonight with no errors and only two walks,” Deggs said. “I knew that we could pitch the baseball and we needed a start like that. Coach Thib (Seth Thibodeaux) was adamant ... he wanted Moody to go out, and he did, and he looked like a big Brahma Bull out there.
“They got to him early, but he didn't flinch - no glass jaw - and he winds up finishing the game with really three pitches, all for strikes. He could have stayed out there, but I didn't want to run his pitch count up ... it's his third appearance already and it's too early in the season.”
Zambo, who went 2-for-3 in the game, poked an RBI single to center field in the fourth inning after Julian Brock led off the frame when reached second on a dropped fly ball by Cougar center fielder Cole Gambill.
BYU, playing its fifth game of a season-opening, eight-game trip to the state of Louisiana, scored twice in the seventh to take a 3-1 lead as Jacob Wilk and Pratt each recorded RBI doubles.
Louisiana would rally for its second win of the season after Carson Roccaforte was hit by a pitch with one out by BYU reliever Sam Beck before Brock would draw a walk. Joey Porter (0-1) relieved Beck and his pickoff attempt on Roccaforte at second scooted into center field for the Cougar’s fourth error of the game.
Zambo responded as he drove an opposite-field single through the left side to plate both runners before Stelly would single to left to plate pinch-runner Ben Robichaux to give Louisiana its first lead of the game.
Marshall, who missed the 2022 season due to injury, struck out all five batters he faced in earning his first victory since May 15, 2021.
“I thought David (Christie) came in and had a great tempo ... they just strung a couple of knocks together,” said Deggs. “And then Coop (Cooper Rawls) matches up in the eighth and then Marsh comes in with that dagger slider he had tonight. He was able to locate it, and when he can locate it he's tough.”
Hansen, making his first career start for BYU, allowed a pair of hits and an unearned run with nine strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work. Pratt led the Cougars at the plate going 3-for-4 with Brandon Watkins adding a sixth-inning single.
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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