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Higgs, Rawls Help Louisiana Earn Split With Trojans

Ragin’ Cajuns visit top-ranked LSU on Tuesday
Carson Roccaforte.jpg
Posted at 10:54 PM, Apr 16, 2023

LAFAYETTE – Conor Higgs’ pinch-hit home run to lead off the seventh inning snapped a 1-1 tie and Cooper Rawls pitched three hitless innings in relief to earn his eighth win of the season and move into a tie for the national lead as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns earned a 2-1 win over Troy in the nightcap of a Sun Belt Conference doubleheader on Sunday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

In the opener, Caleb Bartolero hit a pair of home runs while Grayson Stewart pitched 6.0 solid innings in helping Troy (25-12, 8-7 SBC) to a 6-2 victory.

Louisiana (25-12, 10-5 SBC), tied with Southern Miss and one game behind Coastal Carolina for the overall SBC lead, will open a four-game road trip beginning on Tuesday when it visits No. 1-ranked LSU in a 6:30 p.m. contest at Alex Box Stadium.

The game will be streamed live on SEC Network + and can be heard in the Lafayette area on 103.3 The Goat, 1420 AM and worldwide on the Varsity Network app.

GAME 1 – Troy 6, Louisiana 2 

Bartolero, who finished 2-for-4 in the opener, broke a scoreless tie in the second inning when he lined a two-run homer to left off Louisiana starter Jackson Nezuh (5-2). Barterlero added his second home run of the day – and ninth of the season – when his flyball to center cleared the fence to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Stewart (4-2) retired the first 12 batters he faced until Carson Roccaforte’s leadoff single in the fifth inning for the Ragin’ Cajuns. After Roccaforte stole second and third, John Taylor lifted a sacrifice fly to center to help Louisiana close the gap to 3-1.

The Trojans scored twice after Nezuh retired the first two batters before hitting a batter and giving way to reliever David Christie. After a second hit batter, Ethan Cavanagh lined an RBI single to right field to drive in Shane Lewis before Clay Stearns was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for a 5-1 lead.

Mason Zambo would single and score on Ben Robichaux’s RBI grounder in the sixth to cut the Troy lead to 5-2 but the Trojans would add an insurance run in the eighth after Tremayne Cobb, Jr., drew a two-out walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Stewart allowed four hits and fanned seven batters before being pulled in the seventh due to injury. Ben Thompson pitched the final 3.0 innings for the Trojans and struck out seven to earn his first save of the season.

Nezuh pitched 5.2 innings and scattered four hits with seven strikeouts for Louisiana. Marusak led Louisiana’s six-hit attack after going 2-for-5 at the plate.

GAME 2 – Louisiana 2, Troy 1 

Marusak led off the first inning for Louisiana with his sixth homer of the season – and fourth in the past five games – after hitting the third pitch from Troy starter Logan Ross over the left-field fence for a quick 1-0 lead.

Blake McGehee and Rawls combined to allow four hits while the Louisiana defense turned three double plays in securing the win. McGehee pitched 6.0 innings with a pair of strikeouts before Lewis led off the seventh with his 16th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

Rawls (8-0), who moved into a tie for the national lead in wins with McNeese’s Grant Rogers, pitched the final 3.0 innings and allowed a pair of base runners, beginning with a walk to Bartolero before getting Kavanagh to hit into a 6-4-3 double play before getting Cobb to fly out to center to end the inning.

Higgs led off the seventh for Louisiana and capping a nine-pitch, at-bat with his third home run of the season – all as a pinch-hitter – off Troy reliever Noah Manning (1-2) to break the deadlock.

Clay Wargo, playing in place of starting catcher Julian Brock (illness), added a single and stolen base for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Roccaforte and Heath Hood each collecting one of Louisiana’s five hits in the nightcap.

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