LAFAYETTE – Ryan Wilson threw seven innings and the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team broke through in the eighth inning with four runs to break a tie and capture a 5-1 victory over Nicholls State here Wednesday evening at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Wilson, making his second start and first since the Sunday game of the Central Michigan series, scattered seven hits and held the Colonels to one run.
The Cajuns (8-2) made threats to break the deadlock in the fifth inning (left bases loaded) and sixth inning (runners on corners) only to have Nicholls pitchers Grant Borne and Justin Sinibaldi escape trouble.
The Cajuns loaded the bases in the eighth inning off of Nicholls reliever Kelby Langston. This time Dex Kjerstad made sure the Cajuns took advantage of the opportunity.
Kjerstad laced a single into left field scoring Wilson and Jace Conrad, breaking the tie that had lasted since the Colonels (6-3) plated a run in the fifth inning on a Cody Dufrene RBI single.
Louisiana added insurance runs as Seth Harrison followed with a RBI single and Kjerstad later came around to score on a Tyler Girouard grounder.
Matt Hicks, who preserved the tie by working out a two runners aboard and no outs situation in the top of the eighth inning, retired the Colonels in order in the ninth to complete the victory.
The Ragin' Cajuns extended their win streak over the Colonels at “The Tigue” to 14 games. Louisiana hasn't lost to Nicholls in the friendly confines since April 1995.
Louisiana returns to the field Friday-Sunday, March 1-3 for a three-game series with Sacred Heart at “The Tigue”. The series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday.
Kjerstad ended the night 3-for-5 with a team-best two RBI. He also scored two runs.
Hicks hit the first batter he faced in the eighth inning (Mike Barba) then surrendered a single (Philip Lyons). He made a sliding grab of a sacrifice bunt attempt to force out Barba at third base, then after runners moved to second and third base on a Seth Stevens grounder struck out Tyler Duplantis to keep the tie intact.
The eighth inning rebound, combined with retiring the side in order in the ninth inning, gave Hicks his second victory of the young season.
Louisiana opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning after Kjerstad led off with an infield single, moved to third on a Michael Strentz double and scored on a Girouard sacrifice fly.
The game then turned into a pitcher's duel between Wilson and Borne, who matched the Cajuns lefty by holding UL to one run on three hits in five innings of work.
Duplantis opened the Colonels half of the fifth inning with a single to center field and moved into scoring position for Dufrene's run-scoring single on a sacrifice bunt from David Zorn.
BASES NOTED: The Cajuns-Colonels series is the seventh-most played for UL, now 118 games old following Wednesday's contest…Louisiana upped its all-time series lead to 67-50-1 and defeated Nicholls for the 15th time in the past 18 meetings…UL and Nicholls met for the first time since 2011…The Ragin' Cajuns return the visit on April 16 in Thibodaux…Michael Strentz's double in the first inning extended his hitting streak to six games, the longest active and tied with Blake Trahan for the team season-high streak…Matt Hicks made his fifth relief appearance and for the fifth time walked away with a win or a save (2-0, 3 saves)…Hicks is tied with Matt Plitt for the most appearances out of the bullpen (5)…Ryan Wilson's seven innings marked the longest stint by a Cajuns starting pitcher this season, topping the previous high of six pitched by Austin Robichaux vs. UTSA last Sunday…Wilson threw just 73 pitches in his seven innings, an average of just over 10 pitches per inning…Game time was one hour, 55 minutes marking the shortest game of the season (previous was two hours, 15 minutes in first game of CMU doubleheader on Feb. 16)…Jace Conrad has now made 43 straight plate appearances since the season opener without being struck out by an opposing pitcher…The Cajuns improved to 2-1 in midweek games and ended Nicholls State's three-game winning streak…The victory helped the Cajuns avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.