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Louisiana Edges South Alabama In Extra-Inning Thriller, 5-4

Bonds fans 14 in relief appearance; Marusak gets two hits in return to lineup
debarge cajuns walk off.jpg
Posted at 11:54 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 01:42:33-04

LAFAYETTE – Freshman Kyle DeBarge’s one-out single through the right side helped Louisiana score a pair of runs in the bottom of the 11th inning and claim a 5-4 thriller over defending Sun Belt Conference champion South Alabama on Friday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

Max Marusak, making his return to the leadoff spot in the lineup after suffering an oblique injury against Stanford on Feb. 25, went 2-for-5 with a pair of stolen bases, two runs scored and his first RBI in a Louisiana uniform – a game-tying single in the 11th through the left side to score pinch-runner Conor Higgs from second.

After falling in walk-off fashion in two of its previous three games, Louisiana (10-11, 1-3 Sun Belt) notched its second walk-off win of the season after South Alabama (15-5, 3-1 Sun Belt) took a 4-3 lead in the 11th inning on Cameron Tissue’s solo home run just inside the left-field foul pole.

Julian Brock opened the bottom half of the frame with a walk from Jaguar reliever Grant Wood (0-1) before reaching second on Jonathan Brandon’s hard-hit grounder back to the mound. Marusak then lined a single past USA shortstop Santi Montiel into left field, allowing Higgs to score the tying run and snapping an 0-for-16 start for Louisiana with runners in scoring position.

Tyler Robertson was then hit the first pitch from Wood before DeBarge redeemed himself after popping into a double play with Marusak attempting to score on a squeeze bunt. DeBarge, who singled and scored on Will Veillon’s triple in the third inning, then delivered his first walk-off hit as he hit a 1-1 pitch from Wood into right field with Marusak beating the throw at home.

The majority of the game was a pitcher’s duel between USA starter Miles Smith – the SBC Preseason Pitcher of the Year – and the combination of Louisiana’s Brandon Talley and Bo Bonds. Smith, who got out of jams in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings, struck out 12 batters in 8.0 innings of work while throwing 128 pitches on the night.

Talley, making his fourth career start and first in a Friday role, scattered six hits and fanned two batters in 4.2 innings before giving way to Bonds in the fifth. The right-hander ended the inning by fanning Montiel with a runner on first – the first of 14 strikeouts for the sophomore.

Bonds, who pitched a season-high 5.2 innings, recorded 10 of his first 11 outs via the strikeout as he fanned three straight Jaguar batters in the seventh after Erick Orbeta reached on a single and moved to second on a walk to Will Turner.

After Montiel led off with a double in the eighth inning, Bonds would fan the side to keep South Alabama off the board before retiring the Jaguars in order in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts.

Bonds, who scattered three hits in the game, would get pulled with one out in the 11th inning after Tissue’s home run, giving the Jags a 4-3 lead. Chipper Menard (2-0) would issue a walk to Altamirano before getting a pair of ground outs to keep the Jaguars from extending the lead.

South Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Miles Simington hit a two-out single and eventually scored on Hunter Stokes’ RBI single through the left side. Louisiana would answer with a manufactured run in the bottom half of the inning as Marusak led off with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on DeBarge’s RBI grounder to first.

Louisiana would plate a run in the second as a pair of two-out hits and a Jaguar error led to an unearned run. Heath Hood doubled into the right-field corner and scored one batter later when Tissue’s throw to first on a Brock grounder bounced in front of Stokes.

DeBarge would help Louisiana pad its lead to 3-1 in the third after hitting a one-out single to left and scoring when Veillon hit a triple into the right-field gap.

The series resumes on Saturday in a 2 p.m. contest that will be streamed live on ESPN+. Fans in the Lafayette area can listen to the game on KPEL-FM (96.5) and on the #GeauxCajuns app.

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