LAFAYETTE – Tyler Robertson led a 19-hit attack going 4-for-4 at the plate with a career-high four RBI and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns erupted 11 runs in the first four innings to claim a 14-2 win over ULM in the opening game of a Sun Belt Conference series on Thursday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Southpaw Brandon Talley (2-1) struck out a career-high eight batters in a career-high 6.0 innings on the mound as Louisiana (19-14, 8-5 SBC) won its fifth straight game and set a season-high for hits and runs scored.
Julian Brock went 2-for-3 with a home run and a career-high three RBI while Connor Kimple belted a go-ahead solo home run in the second inning as the Ragin’ Cajuns scored one run in the first, three in the second, six in the third and one in the fourth.
ULM (11-20-1, 4-8-1 SBC) took an early 1-0 lead when Mason Holt tripled on the first pitch of the game and scored on a sacrifice fly by Grant Schulz.
Louisiana, which collected eight hits with two outs in the contest, tied the game in the bottom half of the first when Kyle DeBarge doubled just inside the third base line and scored on Carson Roccaforte’s RBI single to center.
Kimple, playing in his 100th career game for the Ragin’ Cajuns, gave Louisiana a 2-1 lead in the second when he homered to right off ULM starter Cam Barlow (2-4) before back-to-back, two-out doubles by Max Marusak and Robertson extended the lead to 4-1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns broke open the game in the fourth, sending 11 men to the plate and taking advantage of three Warhawk errors in the frame. Roccaforte led off the inning with a single to center and reached second when Jonathan Brandon’s hard grounder back to the mound fell out of Barlow’s glove to spoil a potential double play.
Heath Hood then reached on a bunt single to load the bases before Kimple’s sacrifice fly scored Roccaforte for a 5-1 lead.
Brock then followed with his third home run of the season to give Louisiana an 8-2 lead before Bobby Lada scored on a double steal and Marsuak scored on Robertson’s infield single.
Marusak added a run in the fourth when his double to left scored Kimple before a sacrifice fly by Marusak in the sixth and RBI triple by Robertson gave Louisiana a 13-2 cushion. The Ragin’ Cajuns plated their final run of the night in the seventh inning when CJ Willis was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Mason Zambo’s hard-hit single to right and scored on Trey LaFleur’s RBI single.
Talley, making his fifth consecutive start, held ULM in check as the Warhawks’ runs were both driven in by Schulz on sacrifice flies. The senior bounced back after Colby Deaville led off the sixth with a triple to right by fanning Carson Jones, getting Austin Beech to line out to first and fanning Trace Henry to conclude his longest outing in a Ragin’ Cajuns uniform.
Dylan Theut, Jake Hammond and Austin Perrin each pitched a scoreless inning for Louisiana with the trio combining for seven strikeouts over the final 3.0 innings. Perrin fanned a season-high three batters for Louisiana, getting pinch-hitter Caleb Sterling looking at a called third strike with the bases loaded to close out the game.
Holt and Matthew Lee each recorded a pair of hits to lead the Warhawks while Beech and Ryan Cupit each hit singles. Barlow allowed eight earned runs on nine hits in 2.1 innings of work as ULM used four pitchers on the evening.
The series resumes on Friday when the teams play in a 6 p.m. contest. Louisiana will send Jacob Schultz (1-3, 3.48 ERA) to the mound with ULM countering with right-hander Cole Cressend (3-3, 7.36 ERA).
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