LAFAYETTE – Cooper Rawls and a pair of relievers combined on a six-hitter and Julian Brock broke open a close game in the sixth inning with his third grand slam of the season in leading the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a 6-0 win over App State in the finale of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series on Sunday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Peyton LeJeune went 3-for-3 and gave Louisiana (19-9, 6-3 Sun Belt) a 1-0 lead in the third inning when he stole home on a double steal attempt. Max Marusak went 2-for-5 with a stolen base for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Carson Roccaforte going 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Rawls (6-0), whose five previous wins were in relief, made his second career start for Louisiana and went 5.2 inning with four strikeouts and no walks.
The right-hander got out of an early jam in the first inning after App State (15-11, 6-3 Sun Belt) loaded the bases with two outs after a pair of hit batters sandwiched around a Hayden Cross double to right. Rawls would get out of the inning after getting CJ Boyd to ground out to second and keep the Mountaineers off the board.
Louisiana broke open the scoreless contest in the third inning after LeJeune led off with a walk and moved to third on Marusak’s two-out single to center. The Ragin’ Cajuns successfully executed a double steal with Marusak avoiding the tag at second and LeJeune earning his first stolen base in a Louisiana uniform for a 1-0 lead.
Marusak, who recorded his fifth multi-hit game of the season, reached on an infield single in the sixth inning off App State reliever Grey LaSpaluto before Heath Hood drew a two-out walk. Roccaforte then beat out an infield single off Mountaineer reliever Dante Chirico to load the bases before Brock belted a 1-and-0 pitch over the left-field fence for his eighth home run of the season and a 5-0 lead.
Ben Robichaux gave Louisiana its final run of the game in the seventh when was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Hood’s double to left and scored on Roccaforte’s RBI grounder to second.
Rawls, who retired the side in order in both the second and fourth inning, allowed four base runners after the first inning before being chased after Boyd’s ground-rule double in the sixth.
Blake McGehee and Brendan Moody pitched the final 3.1 innings for Louisiana, which turned in a pair of double plays over the final two innings.
Caleb Cross (3-1) took the loss in his first start for App State after allowing one hit and striking out three. Austin St. Laurent went 2-for-4 to lead the Mountaineers at the plate.
Louisiana will return to action on Tuesday when it plays host to in-state opponent Tulane in a 6 p.m. contest. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and can be heard in the Lafayette area on 103.3 The Goat and ESPN 1420 AM.
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