LAKE CHARLES – Will Veillon, Heath Hood and Julian Brock each posted three-hit games to lead a 17-hit attack, but it was Kyle DeBarge’s unconventional, two-out triple in the eighth inning that staged a four-run inning and lift the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a wild 10-8 win over in-state rival McNeese on Wednesday at Joe Miller Ballpark.
Chipper Menard, the sixth of seven pitchers used by Louisiana (9-7), pitched 1.2 innings of hitless relief with four strikeouts as the Ragin’ Cajuns built a 4-1 lead after four innings before McNeese (10-8) scored six runs to take a 7-5 lead after six.
Hood, who went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored three runs, led off the eighth inning when he was hit by a pitch by McNeese reliever Brian Shadrick (1-1) and moved to second on Connor Kimple’s single. Brock and Warnner Rincones would each record one-out, RBI singles for Louisiana, chasing Shadrick for Cowboy closer Cameron Foster and tying the game at 7-7.
Foster struck out Veillon for the second out and went 0-and-2 on DeBarge before the freshman and former Barbe High product lined a pitch off Foster’s leg and ricocheting past first baseman Peyton Johnson and allowing both runners to score.
Menard (1-0) responded in the bottom half of the inning by striking out the side before Jacob Schultz pitched the ninth inning to record his third save of the year.
Louisiana erupted for four runs in the first inning off McNeese starter Isaac Duplechain as Carson Roccaforte hit a sacrifice fly to score Veillon and Hood’s bunt single scored DeBarge. Kimple, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, would give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 4-0 lead as he lined a ball past a diving center-fielder Payton Harden and scored on an inside-the-park home run.
The Cowboys scored an unearned run in the third inning off Louisiana starter Peyton Havard as Kade Morris’ single scored Braden Duhon before tying the game at 4-4 in the fifth when Brad Burckel scored on a wild pitch and Schuyler Thibodaux lined a two-out single to right to score Kade Hunter and Harden.
Louisiana, which improved to 100-76 all-time against its in-state rival, reclaimed the lead in the sixth as Hood led off with a triple that landed just inside the right-field line before scoring on Kimple’s grounder to short, but the Cowboys would come back with their second, three-run inning as Julian Gonzales hit an RBI single to left before Harden’s single and error scored a pair of runs.
DeBarge went 2-for-5 at the plate as Louisiana scored 10 runs on 17 hits for the second straight contest. Roccaforte, Bobby Lada and CJ Willis each recorded a hit for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Havard scattered three hits and fanned one in three innings of work.
Shadrick allowed four runs on three hits in 1.1 innings for McNeese while Burckel led the Cowboys’ 11-hit attack going 3-for-5 at the plate.
Louisiana will open Sun Belt Conference play on Friday when it travels to face Troy in a three-game series in Troy, Ala. First pitch for Friday’s opener is set for 6 p.m., with Saturday’s game slated for 3 p.m. and Sunday’s finale at 1. All three games are scheduled to be streamed live on ESPN+ with fans able to listen to the game in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM 96.5 and RaginCajuns.com.
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