LAFAYETTE – Jackson Nezuh took a perfect game into the seventh inning before tossing a career-high 8.0 innings with nine strikeouts in leading the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a 3-1 win over Arkansas State to complete a three-game sweep in its Sun Belt Conference series opener on Sunday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Heath Hood and Julian Brock each had two hits and drove in a run as Louisiana (14-6, 3-0 Sun Belt) recorded its first sweep in a SBC series-opener since 2015 against Troy. Blake Marshall pitched the final inning to record his fourth save of the season and help Louisiana notch its second combined two-hit performance in five games.
Nezuh (3-0), who tossed a then career-high 5.1 innings in his last start against High Point, retired the first 18 batters he faced until giving up a leadoff walk to Wil French in the seventh.
The right-hander, who ended the previous six innings with a strikeout, would walk Blake Burris before Brandon Hager followed with base hit to center to break up the no-hitter with French scoring on an error to avert the shutout.
Louisiana took a 1-0 lead in the first after Ben Robichaux reached on an error to open the inning before moving to second on Kyle DeBarge’s single through the left side. Hood, who went 2-for-4 with three stolen bases, hit an RBI single to left off ASU starter Kyler Carmack (1-1) to score Robichaux.
Hood reached on an error to lead off the sixth for Louisiana before stealing second and scoring on Taylor’s RBI to center off Red Wolves reliever Arlon Butts to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 2-0 cushion.
Brock would drive in an insurance run to give Louisiana a 3-1 lead in the eighth when his one-out, bloop single scored Hood.
Robichaux and Landrey Wilkerson each hit singles for Louisiana, which had eight hits in the game and scored a pair of unearned runs off A-State (7-11, 0-3 Sun Belt) errors. Marshall, who allowed a leadoff double to French in the ninth before walking Burris, got Hager to ground into a 6-4-3 double play before getting Kody Darcy to pop up to second to end the game.
Carmack pitched 5.0 innings for Arkansas State, scattering four hits and allowing an unearned run. The right-hander fanned four batters before Butts pitched the final 3.0 innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Louisiana will open its second consecutive, five-game week on Tuesday when it plays host to Grambling in a 6 p.m. contest. The Ragin’ Cajuns will host in-state program and 2022 NCAA Regional participant Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday at 6 p.m. before resuming SBC play with a three-game series at South Alabama beginning on Friday.
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