LAFAYETTE, La. – Junior catcher Handsome Monica came through with a walk-off squeeze bunt in the ninth as the 14th-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team defeated Appalachian State 4-3 on Sunday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park to claim the squads fourth straight series victory of the year.
“I told him (Handsome) on the on deck circle that the situation for a squeeze could present itself and to be ready,” head coach Tony Robichaux said. “He told me that he could get it down, so we went with it and he got it done. We put ourselves in a position to pitch and play defense and win going away. We won two out of three this weekend and didn’t even have to use our closer this weekend, so that is a good thing.”
Sophomore Hogan Harris went five innings allowing just one earned run (three total) on five hits in a no decision. Harris struck out seven with three walks and was able to pitch his way out jams in the first and fourth innings.
“I thought Hogan did a great job today,” Robichaux said. “He needs to continue to keep tightening the links in his chain. He had a good three pitch mix and was able to pitch out of a couple jams. That’s a good sign when you have a young pitcher who can do that.”
Junior Evan Guillory picked up his first win of the season to improve to 1-2 on the year tossing four perfect frames with seven strikeouts to close out the contest.
“We flipped Guillory’s brain by putting him in the bullpen,” Robichaux added. “He did well at Louisiana Tech and then came back out again today and had another good outing. That sets up really good for us to have him out of the pen.”
Louisiana (11-6, 2-1 SBC) outhit the Mountaineers (9-11, 1-2 SBC) 8-5 in the contest led by first baseman Alex Pinero who went 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, scored a run and drove in another. Centerfielder Ishmael Edwards had his second multi-hit effort of the weekend going 2-for-4 and scored a run.
Appalachian State reliever Reed Howell was handed his first loss of the season after giving up one run on two hits in 2.1 innings. Starter Luke Watts limited the Cajuns to three runs on six hits in 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts.
App State grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on a two-out, two-run single to centerfield by right fielder Brian Bauk.
The Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t take any time to respond answering with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to even the game at 2-all. With two outs, right fielder Steven Sensley sent an RBI double down the left field line to get Louisiana on the board. In the next at bat, Pinero tied the game driving in Sensley on a ground-rule double to the gap in right centerfield.
The Mountaineers regained the lead in the top of the fifth on a solo home run to left field by catcher Chandler Seagle.
An inning later, designated hitter Todd Lott knotted the game at 3-all plating Pinero on a one-out single to left centerfield. The single extended Lott’s hit streak to nine games.
In the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Kennon Fontenot led off the inning with a double to left center. Pinch runner Jam Williams moved to third on a sac bunt by Brenn Conrad and then scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Monica to capture the victory.
The Ragin’ Cajuns return to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m. as the squad hosts Houston in the first of five games on the week. Following the matchup with the Cougars, Louisiana will face Tulane on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Russo Park. Fans can use their tickets dated for the originally scheduled April 18 date for entry to the Tulane contest.
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