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Late Rally Falls Short For Cajuns at McNeese, 5-4

Kyle Debarge UL BSB.jpg
Posted at 11:24 PM, Feb 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 00:24:24-05

LAKE CHARLES – Carson Roccaforte went 2-for-3 with an RBI double while CJ Willis kept up his hot start with an RBI double in the ninth, but McNeese scored a run in four straight innings and added an unearned insurance run in the eighth inning to hold off the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 5-4, on Tuesday at Joe Miller Ballpark.

Kainin Morrow and a pair of relievers scattered seven hits as McNeese (4-4) won for the third time in its last four games. Brad Burckel and Payton Harden each hit solo homers as the Cowboys scored a run in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings before taking a 5-2 lead in the eighth on a sacrifice fly.

Burckel led off the second inning with a solo home run to center off Louisiana starter Brendan Moody (0-1) for a 1-0 lead before Harden hit a two-out, solo shot to left field in the third.

The Cowboys took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Burckel led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a passed ball, third on an infield grounder and scored when he slid in under the tag of Julian Brock on Andruw Gonzalez’s fielder’s choice to third.

Cooper Hext led off the fifth inning for McNeese with a triple into the right-field corner and gave the Cowboys a 4-0 lead when Harden hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Morrow (1-0) tossed 6.0 innings for the Cowboys, fanning six batters with four walks while allowing a pair of hits.

Louisiana (6-2), which had its four-game win streak snapped, got on the board in the eighth inning when Willis led off with a walk, moved to second on Heath Hood’s infield grounder and scored when Roccaforte doubled down the right-field line.

The Ragin’ Cajuns would cut the lead to 4-2 one batter later when Brock hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field and allowing Hood to score.

McNeese would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Josh Leslie reached on an error, moved to second on a hit batter, third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Tre’ Obregon III’s sacrifice fly to center.

John Taylor led off the ninth for Louisiana with a single up the middle off Christian Vega before eventually scoring on Willis’ RBI double to cut the lead to 5-3. Kyle DeBarge nearly missed a game-tying homer as his hard liner caromed off the left-field wall for an RBI single before Vega got Hood to ground out to third to seal the win.

Moody scattered three hits and struck out a pair in 6.0 innings in his second start for Louisiana. Jackson Nezuh struck out three in an inning of relief for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Jerry Couch and Landrey Wilkerson pitched the eighth, with Wilkerson getting the final two outs in his Louisiana pitching debut.

Louisiana will return home to open a three-game series against Big South Conference member and 2022 NCAA Regional participant Campbell University beginning on Friday. The series will open with a 6 p.m. contest on Friday before playing at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

All three game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with fans able to hear the game on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network and on-line on the Varsity Network app.

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.

Fans are encouraged to stay engaged with the Ragin' Cajuns by downloading the #GeauxCajuns app. Click here [] for iOS/Apple platforms and here [] for Android platforms.

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