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Fluno's Gem Helps Louisiana Even Series With Southern Miss, 10-1

Cajuns snap Golden Eagles’ 14-game win streak; rubber game set for 1 p.m. Saturday
Carson Fluno UL BSB.jpg
Posted at 1:11 AM, May 20, 2023

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – One night after a masterful pitching performance by Southern Miss’ Tanner Hall, it was Carson Fluno’s turn for a pitching gem for Louisiana.

The junior right-hander went a career-long 8.0 innings and fanned a career-best 11 batters as Louisiana broke open a close game with a seven-run outburst over two innings and earned a 10-1 win over the No. 23-ranked Golden Eagles on Friday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday 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.

Carson Roccaforte belted a solo home run and added a two-run double while CJ Willis and Max Marusak drove in two runs each as Louisiana (36-19, 18-11 SBC) erupted for 15 hits and snapped a 14-game win streak for Southern Miss (36-16, 21-8 SBC).

One day after celebrating his 21st birthday, Fluno (3-0) recorded his first career quality start while recording the most strikeouts by a Ragin’ Cajuns pitcher this season. Fluno stranded a pair of runners in the opening two innings before getting Christopher Sargeant to ground into an inning-ending double play in the third.

That began a stretch of 12 straight batters retired by the Sun Prairie, Wis., native as he fanned six in the span and did not allow a hit until Nick Monistere’s two-out double in the seventh.

After being shut out for the first time this season and limited to a season-low three hits in Thursday’s 4-0 setback, Louisiana wasted no time in getting on the board as Marusak lined the third pitch of the game from USM starter Billy Oldham (6-3) down the right-field line before scoring on Kyle DeBarge’s RBI single.

Roccaforte, who went 2-for-5 with three RBI, then hammered a one-out offering from Oldham to right-center field for his fifth home run of the season to give Louisiana a 2-0 lead.

Louisiana increased its lead to 3-0 in the fifth after DeBarge hit a two-out double, moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Roccaforte’s grounder to second was bobbled for the first of three USM errors in the game.

The Ragin’ Cajuns doubled their lead one inning later after John Taylor reached on a bunt single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when CJ Willis’ bunt single forced an error that allowed Taylor to score.

Three batters later, Roccaforte laced a two-out, two-run double into the right-field corner to drive in Willis and DeBarge and extend Louisiana’s lead to 6-0.

The Ragin’ Cajuns extended their lead to 10-0 in the seventh after Willis lined a two-out double to center to plate Julian Brock and Taylor before Marusak belted his ninth home run of the season two pitches later.

DeBarge and Heath Hood each went 3-for-5 at the plate to help Louisiana match its largest win in Hattiesburg since a 13-4 victory on March 9, 2013. Marusak, Taylor and Willis joined Roccaforte with two hits each for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Brock drew a pair of walks.

Matthew Etzel had two of Southern Miss’ five hits in the game, including a solo home run in the eighth to avert its first shutout of the season. Oldham allowed eight hits and a pair of earned runs in 4.2 innings for the Golden Eagles while Kros Sivley and Isaiah Rhodes allowed a combined seven runs in 2.0 innings of relief.

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