LAFAYETTE – The last time the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns dropped a three-game Sun Belt Conference sweep on the road in March, it faced in-state foe Nicholls in its next game.
After dropping a 6-5 contest against the Colonels on March 23 and falling behind, 1-0, in the third inning and trailing into the sixth, the Ragin' Cajuns were on the verge of déjà vu all over again.
But Louisiana would explode for a four-run inning, capped by Will Veillon's pinch-hit home run while Austin Perrin and a pair of relievers combined on the first two-hitter thrown by the Ragin' Cajuns pitching staff in five years in a 6-1 win over Nicholls in the final midweek game of the season on Tuesday at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field at Russo Park.
Heath Hood and Tyler Robertson each went 2-for-4 at the plate while Louisiana (31-20) stole a season-high 10 bases in snapping a three-game losing streak.
Chipper Menard (5-1) pitched the final 4.0 innings in relief for Louisiana, allowing a leadoff single by Austin Trahan in the eighth inning before the Ragin' Cajuns defense turned the first of two double plays in the final two innings.
Perrin allowed one hit – a two-out, solo home run by Dane Simon in the third inning – while striking out three batters in three innings of work. Jeff Wilson, coming off a 1.1-inning outing on Sunday at No. 15-ranked Texas State, pitched two hitless innings in his first relief appearance of the season.
Louisiana, which had three hits and stranded five runners in scoring position through the first five innings, eventually broke through in the sixth as three previous Nicholls pitchers held the Ragin' Cajuns at bay.
Carson Roccaforte, who saw his 14-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, led off with a walk-off Colonels' reliever Gavin Galy (0-2) and immediately stole second. Robertson would reach on a bunt single and later steal second to put both runners in scoring position.
Kyle DeBarge then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Roccaforte to score and knot the game at 1-1. After Robertson stole third, Hood then lined a double into the left-field gap to give Louisiana a 2-1 lead before promptly stealing third and scoring on Julian Brock's sacrifice fly to right.
Veillon, who finished 2-for-2 with a career-best three RBI, then launched his second home of the season with a two-out blast off reliever Luke Barbier. Veillon would record his first multi-homer game as a Ragin' Cajun in the eighth when he drove in Trey LaFleur with a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left-center field.
Perrin, Wilson and Menard posted Louisiana's first combined two-hit performance since the trio of Gunner Leger, Wyatt Marks and Dylan Moore defeated Coastal Carolina on April 7, 2017. Perrin, making his final start at home in a Louisiana uniform, retired the first eight batters he faced before Simon hit his first homer of the season.
Menard, who earned his team-high fifth win of the season in his longest career outing, struck out a pair of batters while recording seven ground ball outs.
Nicholls (25-23), which saw its top seven hitters in the lineup go 0-for-21 at the plate, got a solid outing from starter Bradley Ely before being relieved after two innings by Nick Hill and Mason Turner. Galy allowed a pair of hits and three runs in 0.1 innings with David Vial, Jr., the last of seven pitchers used by Nicholls, scattering three hits and allowing a pair of runs with a strikeout.
Louisiana will wrap up the regular season beginning Thursday when it plays host to Little Rock in the final Sun Belt Conference series between the schools. The three-game series begins at 6 p.m., on Thursday with Friday's contest set for 6 p.m., and Saturday's finale at 4.
The Ragin' Cajuns will honor its senior class prior to Saturday's finale along with its 2022 graduate class – pitcher Drew Shifflet and former Ragin' Cajuns great Jonathan Lucroy.
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