LAFAYETTE – Reigning Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Hayden Arnold scattered five hits and fanned 12 batters while the Trojans manufactured a pair of runs to earn a 2-0 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball team on Thursday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Nathan Lyons went 2-for-2 with a walk and scored both runs as Little Rock (24-24, 11-16 SBC), playing its final season in the Sun Belt before moving to the Ohio Valley Conference this summer, defeated Louisiana (31-21, 17-11 SBC) for the third time in the last four games.
Jorden Hussein, Tyler Williams and Canyon McWilliams each recorded hits while Arnold (5-6) would keep the Ragin’ Cajuns off balanced in his first complete game of the season.
Arnold and Louisiana starter Brandon Talley were locked in a pitcher’s duel for the first four innings before Talley was lifted after issuing leadoff single to McWilliams in the fifth and capping an effective, 40-pitch outing.
Reliever Bo Bonds worked around a walk to Eldrige Figueroa as he would get out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts and McWilliams nailed at second on an attempted steal.
The Trojans would break through one inning later as Lyons led off with a single to center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aiden Garrett and scored on Hussein’s RBI single to right-center.
That would be enough for Arnold, who retired 13 straight batters after Tyler Robertson reached on a two-out single up the middle and moved to third on Heath Hood’s ground-rule double down the right-field line.
Little Rock used the near-identical sequence to add an insurance run in the eighth as Lyons led off with a walk, moved to second on Garrett’s sacrifice bunt, third on a wild pitch and scored on Hussein’s sacrifice fly.
Louisiana, which stranded five batters, added singles by Kyle DeBarge, Carson Roccaforte and Max Marusak. Talley scattered a pair of hits and fanned two batters in 4.0 innings on the mound for Louisiana while Bonds (3-3) struck out three batters in 1.2 innings and allowed the Trojans’ first run.
The final series between the schools continues Friday at 6 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and can be heard in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5), the Varsity Network and the #GeauxCajuns app.
Senior right-hander Jacob Schultz (3-3, 4.06 ERA) will earn the start for Louisiana with Little Rock countering with right-hander Hoss Brewer (3-2, 6.10 ERA).
All youth league players who wear their team jersey to the final two games will be able to receive a group rated ticket for $6 in the bleacher sections. Tickets can be purchased at the Cajundome Ticket Office or Russo Park Ticket Office on gameday.
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