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Hood, Ragin' Cajuns Beat Rice In Season-Opener, 5-4

Ragin’ Cajuns earn first season-opening win since 2016
Heath Hood
Posted at 11:23 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-18 00:23:53-05

HOUSTON – Heath Hood delivered a go-ahead, two-run home run to center in the eighth inning and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns earned its first season-opening victory in seven years as it claimed a 5-4 win over Rice on Friday at Reckling Park.

Jake Hammond and three relievers combined on a five-hitter as Louisiana (1-0) claimed its first season-opening win since a 2-1 win over Sam Houston State – ironically coached by current Ragin’ Cajuns skipper Matt Deggs – on Feb. 19, 2016.

Dylan Theut (1-0) pitched 2.1 innings of hitless relief for Louisiana, which beat Rice (0-1) for the 10th straight time, before Brendan Moody induced the final two outs after the Owls loaded the bases.

Hood, who went 2-for-4 with three RBI, gave Louisiana a 2-1 lead in the third inning when his base hit through the left side scored CJ Willis. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored three runs in the third inning as the first five batters reached base off Rice starter Parker Smith.

John Taylor led off the inning when he was hit by a pitch before moving to second on a wild pitch. Will Veillon would put runners on the corners when he connected on a bunt single before Willis tied the game with an RBI single to right.

Kyle DeBarge added a single to center for the Ragin’ Cajuns to put runners on first and second with one out before Hood’s single scored Willis and DeBarge scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Carson Roccaforte.

The Ragin’ Cajuns would get one runner on base before DeBarge reached on a one-out walk in the eighth off Rice reliever Krishna Raj (0-1). Two pitches later, Hood belted his first home run of the season with a blast to center to help Louisiana trade the lead with the Owls for the third time in the game.

Hammond, making his first career start for Louisiana, pitched a career-high 4.1 innings and fanned a career-best six batters before being relieved by Ben Tate.

Rice took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Guy Garibay, Jr., blooped a two-out, opposite field single to left before scoring on Manny Garza’s double to right. The Owls would plate a run in the fourth inning on Nathan Becker’s RBI grounder which drove in Aaron Smigelski before the Owls reclaimed the lead at 4-3 after Ben Royo hit a sacrifice fly to right and Jack Riedel drew a bases-loaded walk.

The Owls would threaten in the ninth after Max Johnson was hit by a pitch and moved to second after Theut issued a walk to Riedel. Moody would come in for Louisiana and Rice would put both runners in scoring position after Garibay’s sacrifice bunt before loading the bases when Garza was intentionally walked.

Moody, who earned his first career save at the collegiate level, would seal the win for Louisiana as he struck out Smigelski before getting Drew Holderbach to ground out to short.

Single-game tickets are available by visiting the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome or purchasing by visiting Account Manager []. For more information call the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome at (337) 265-2104.

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