LAFAYETTE – Derek Bender’s sacrifice fly in the 11th inning scored Graham Brown and was the difference in an 11-inning, 3-2 victory for No. 6-ranked Coastal Carolina over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the finale of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series on Sunday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Nick Lucky sent the game to extra innings for Coastal Carolina (28-14, 15-6 SBC) when his two-out, solo home run in the ninth inning tied the game at 2-2. Louisiana (29-17, 11-10 SBC) nearly sealed the win in the bottom of the ninth when Carson Roccaforte’s potential home run was snared at the right-field wall by Brown before Teddy Sharkey (5-1) got out of the inning.
Brown led off the 11th inning with a walk from Louisiana reliever Brendan Moody (0-4) before advancing to second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. Bender then lifted a fly ball to center to plate Brown and give the Chanticleers their first lead of the day.
Sharkey, who pitched the final 4.0 innings and allowed one hit with four strikeouts, got a pair of strikeouts in the 11th to seal the win for the Chanticleers.
Coastal took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Caden Bodine homered to right-center off Louisiana starter David Christie before adding a double in the fourth. Christie, making his third career start, struck out a career-high seven batters while holding one of the nation’s top offenses in check with two hits allowed through 6.0 innings of work.
Louisiana tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth when Heath Hood hit a one-out single off Chanticleer starter Riley Eikhoff and scored on the following pitch when Conor Higgs drilled a double into the right-field gap.
Hood led off the sixth for Louisiana with a double into the left-field corner before Higgs drew a walk and Julian Brock reached on an error to load the bases. The Ragin’ Cajuns would take a 2-1 lead when Hood scored on a double play and reliever Jason Billings got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
Blake Marshall, who pitched 3.0 innings and struck out four, opened the ninth getting Bodine to ground out before fanning Bender. Lucky followed four pitches later when he his 2-and-1 pitch drifted towards left and cleared the fence for his third home run of the series and 11th of the season.
Hood went 2-for-4 to lead Louisiana at the plate. Ben Robichaux stole a pair of bases with Kyle DeBarge swiping one as the Ragin’ Cajuns increased their season total to 130 – 15 shy of the school record (145) set in 1991 and 2002.
Louisiana will take the week off for final exams before returning to Sun Belt Conference play with a three-game series beginning on Friday at ULM.
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