NATCHITOCHES, La. – After seeing a four-run lead disappear late in the game, the 16th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team rallied with a three-run 12th inning to defeat Northwestern State 8-6 in extra innings on Tuesday night at Brown-Stroud Field.
“This was a unique game, and you never know what you are going to get from a midweek game,” head coach Tony Robichaux said. “Hogan (Harris) did a good job of setting the tone early and our hitters came through and scored plenty of runs for us to win the game. We needed to get a shutdown performance from the bullpen, and we didn’t exactly get that. D-Mo (Dylan Moore) can’t be perfect every time out, and there will be nights where we have to get his back like we did tonight.”
Louisiana (4-3) outhit the Demons (3-4) 11-6 on the night led by first baseman Alex Pinero who went 2-for-5 with a home run and a game-high three RBI. Second baseman Brenn Conrad, third baseman Joe Robbins and left fielder Kennon Fontenot each had a pair of hits in the game.
Left fielder Matt Valdez led the way for NSU offensively going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and scored three times.
Freshman Caleb Armstrong picked up his first career victory for the Ragin’ Cajuns tossing two innings in relief allowing one unearned run on a hit and two walks with three strikeouts. Senior Chris Charpentier logged his first save of the season and the second of his career after recording the final three outs in the 12th inning.
Starter Hogan Harris was outstanding in a no decision tossing five hitless innings with two walks and career-best eight strikeouts.
Northwestern State reliever Cole Langdon took his first loss of the season after giving up three runs on a hit and three walks in 3.2 innings of work. Starter Dan Hlad was chased after five innings having given up just one run while scattering six hits with three strikeouts.
Fontenot brought home the first run of the game in the top of the fifth singling home Robbins to make the score 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, Louisiana plated two runs without the benefit of a hit to extend its advantage to 3-0. After designated hitter Todd Lott and catcher Handsome Monica walked to lead off the inning, the pair moved up a base a Kyle Swanson wild pitch. Right fielder Steven Sensley drove in Lott on a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 2-run edge. In the next at bat, Pinero made the score 3-0 on a sac fly to left field scoring Monica from third.
The Demons got on the board in the bottom half of the sixth as Valdez scored on a two-base throwing error by Robbins to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Cajuns added to the lead in the seventh on an RBI single to left field by second baseman Brenn Conrad to make the score 4-1.
Robbins upped the Louisiana edge to 5-1 in the top of the eighth on an RBI groundout to first base scoring Sensley from third with one out.
Northwestern State started to rally in the bottom of the eighth pulling within two runs on a two-out, two-run single up the middle by designated hitter Regan Kaufman.
The Demons pulled even in the bottom of the ninth when Valdez drove a 2-1 pitch with 2 outs from reliever Dylan Moore back up the middle to plate two runs.
Louisiana regained the lead in the top of the 12th when pinch runner Zach LaFleur moved to second on a Langdon wild pitch and then scored on a two-base wild pitch to put the Ragin’ Cajuns up 6-5. Later in the inning, Pinero added some breathing room with a two-run blast that easily cleared the left field fence to make the score 8-5.
NSU threatened in the bottom half of the 12th putting two on with no outs, but Charpentier came in and got a big double play for the first two outs of the inning. The Demons picked up a run on a Monica throwing error on a strikeout of catcher Kelsey Richard to cut the lead to 8-6, but Charpentier tightened up and struck out Kwan Atkins to end the contest.
The Cajuns return to action this Friday at 6 p.m. as the squad hosts Southern Miss in the 2017 home opener at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park. The teams meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. before closing out the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“We knew this was going to be a grind and that it wasn’t going to be easy,” Robichaux said. “We had some chances to pack things in like tonight, but we didn’t. It’ll be nice to get back and play a home game in front of our fans for the first times in a while.”
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No. 16 UL Lafayette 8, Northwestern State 6, 12 innings
ULL 000 012 110 003 – 8 11 2
NSU 000 001 022 001 – 6 6 0
W – Caleb Armstrong (1-0). L – Cole Langdon (0-1). S – Chris Charpentier (1). 2B – ULL, Ishmael Edwards, Todd Lott, Joe Robbins, Kennon Fontenot. NSU, Matt Valdez. HR – ULL, Alex Pinero (1). Highlights: ULL, Brenn Conrad 2-4, RBI; Pinero 2-5, HR, 3 RBIs; Robbins 2-4, 2B, RBI; Fontenot 2-4, 2B, RBI. NSU, Valdez 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs.
Records: UL Lafayette 4-3; Northwestern State 3-4.