LAFAYETTE – Carson Roccaforte led an eight-hit attack going 2-for-4 at the plate, including a two-run home run to highlight a four-run fifth, to lead the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a 5-3 win over Southern Miss in the opening game of a three-game series on Friday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
Tommy Ray (1-1) and Brandon Talley combined on a four-hitter as Louisiana (6-4) won its third straight game and fanning a combined 11 hitters. Connor Kimple and Julian Brock each added a pair of hits for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who recorded five hits and scored all of its runs with two outs.
After Ray retired USM (6-3) in order in the top of the first inning, Louisiana used its two-out hitting to take an early 1-0 lead. Roccaforte reached on a hard-hit single to first base, stole second and scored when Kimple placed an RBI single through the right side off USM starter Ben Ethridge (1-1).
Louisiana erupted for four runs in the fifth as Brock hit a one-out single to right and moved to second on Bobby Lada’s single up the middle. After Etheridge fanned Will Veillon for the second out of the inning, Kyle DeBarge ripped a 3-and-2 pitch in the right-center field gap to bring home both runners before Roccaforte launched his second home run of the season off the scoreboard in left-center field.
That was enough for Ray, who kept the Golden Eagle bats off balance fanning a season-high six batters in a season-long 5.1 innings of work. The right-hander did not allow a hit until Drew Dickerson’s two-out, infield single in the fifth inning before allowing a pair of base runners with one out in the sixth.
Talley, who pitched the final 3.2 innings with a season-high five strikeouts, relieved Ray and promptly fanned Slade Wilks for the second out of the inning before Will McGillis cut the lead to 5-3 when he hit his first home run of the season over the left-field fence.
Talley would settle down from there as he allowed one hit the rest of the game – a two-out single by Gabe Montenego in the seventh inning – before retiring the final seven USM batters for his first save of the year.
Danny Lynch added a single for USM, which was coming off a 7-1 win over defending national champion Mississippi State on Wednesday. Ethridge pitched five innings for the Golden Eagles, scattering eight hits and fanning two. Tyler Stuart pitched three innings of hitless relief for the Golden Eagles.
The series between the future Sun Belt Conference rivals continues on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. Louisiana will send left-hander Dylan Theut (0-1, 3.18 ERA) to the mound with Southern Miss countering with right-hander Hunter Riggins (2-0, 0.82 ERA).
Saturday’s game can be heard in the Lafayette area on KPEL 96.5 FM and will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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