LAFAYETTE – Michael Strentz posted a game-high four RBI, the final two coming off a tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning, leading the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team to a 6-3 victory over Southeastern Louisiana here Wednesday evening at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Matt Plitt gave the Cajuns bullpen a much needed night of rest by throwing eight strong innings and limiting the Lions to three runs (two earned) off seven scattered hits. The Cajuns had used four relievers a night earlier in an 11-9 victory over McNeese State and needed to rest pitchers with another key Sun Belt series beginning in just two days.
Louisiana (29-13) swept the season series from SLU (26-16) for the first time since 2007 and halted a four-game losing streak to the Lions at “The Tigue”.
The Ragin' Cajuns travel to Miami for a three-game Sun Belt series with FIU (22-17, 10-8 Sun Belt) scheduled for Friday-Sunday, April 26-28 at FIU Baseball Stadium. Game times are 5 p.m. (CDT) on Friday, 3 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday and 9 a.m. (CDT) on Sunday. Jay Walker will call the aciton live on News Talk Radio 96.5 FM.
Dylan Butler posted three hits for the second straight night, his last hit producing a run in the eighth inning that provided the final margin.
After the Lions grabbed a first-inning lead on a two-out RBI double by Harry Slade, the Cajuns pulled in front in the second inning when Strentz ripped a two-run double off of SLU reliever Sean Kennel.
The contest then became a pitcher's duel between Plitt and Kennell who swapped scoreless innings pitched from the third through fifth inning.
SLU took advantage of a failed pickoff attempt by Plitt in the sixth inning to pick up an unearned run and draw a 2-2 tie.
The Cajuns were able to break through against Kennel in the seventh inning. Butler started the inning with a triple then Strentz lofted the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a two-run home run that opened a 4-2 advantage. Sam Carriere followed with an infield single, stole second and then scored on a Dex Kjerstad single up the middle to increase the lead to 5-2
Kennel had held the Cajuns to just two hits the previous four innings before the Cajuns turned the tables with the three-run seventh inning.
The teams traded runs in the eighth inning with the Lions scoring on a passed ball to trim their deficit to 5-3 and the Cajuns scoring on a Butler RBI single to reclaim a three-run lead.
Ryan Wilson retired SLU in order in the ninth inning to pick up his first save. That allowed UL to rest Matt Hicks who had tossed two innings and 26 pitches the night before in Lake Charles.
Louisiana improved to 8-3 in midweek games and remained unbeaten on Wednesday (4-0). The Cajuns won for the fourth time in the past five games and moved to a season-high 16 games above .500.
BASES NOTED: The Cajuns and Lions met for the 105th time…Louisiana increased its all-time series lead to 59-46…Matt Plitt threw 122 pitches; his previous high pitch count was 53 vs. LSU back on Feb. 26…Plitt's eight innings pitched marked the longest outing by a Cajuns starting pitcher in a midweek game in 2013 (previous was seven innings by Ryan Wilson vs. Nicholls State on Feb. 27)…Michael Strentz's home run marked the fifth straight game that the Cajuns have homered…Strentz picked up his first game of 4 RBI and upped his season total to 30…Strentz becomes the second Cajun with 30 RBI (Tyler Girouard, 33)…Matt Plitt lowered his ERA from 4.28 to 3.55 after allowing just two earned runs in eight innings…In April, Plitt has pitched 14 innings and allowed just 11 hits and two earned runs…In the two midweek games this week, the Cajuns clubbed 10 extra base hits raising the slugging percentage from .478 to .483…Dylan Butler finished 6-for-9 in the McNeese-SLU games combined upping his April batting average to . 485 (16-of-33)…Six of the Cajuns nine hits came from the No. 7-9 hitters in the lineup (Butler, Strentz, Carriere)…Jace Conrad started at first base for the third straight game…Tyler Girouard rested for the third straight game…Louisiana picked up home victory No. 21 marking the most wins at “The Tigue” since posting 23 victories (23-10) in 2010…Matt Plitt is now 2-0 in contests that he starts (Northwestern State on April 10 and Southeastern Louisiana on April 24)…Wednesday's game marked the final non-conference home game of the 2013 season for Louisiana.