Apr 26, 2013 11:51 PM by UL Sports Information
MIAMI - Tyler Alexander's ability to slow down a quick start by the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team paved the way for a 7-6 comeback victory by FIU that was completed in the 11th inning here Friday evening at FIU Baseball Stadium.
Alexander surrendered four runs to Louisiana (29-14, 10-9 Sun Belt) in the first inning and threw 30-plus pitches. What he was able to accomplish the next five innings paid dividends for FIU (23-17, 11-8 Sun Belt).
Alexander tossed five consecutive scoreless frames and limited the Cajuns to two hits the remainder of his time on the mound. His teammates chipped away at the early deficit and would grab a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning.
The Cajuns scored twice off of Alberto Cardenas to draw a tie in the eighth and ninth inning and ultimately force extra innings. Dex Kjerstad launched a solo home run on the first pitch of the ninth inning to draw a 6-all tie.
The Panthers were able to notch the game-winning tally in the 11th inning after a Ryan Wilson walk, following an intentional walk, loaded the bases. Josh Anderson shoved a single through the left side of the infield to score Julius Gaines (leadoff single) with the tiebreaking run.
Louisiana and FIU continue the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. (CDT). The Cajuns have altered their pitching rotation and will give Cody Boutte the start.
Mitchell Davis, who tossed the final two innings for FIU and struck out four, picked up the win in relief. Wilson, making his first relief appearance in a weekend series since the Southern Miss weekend (March 8-10), was charged with the loss.
Neither starting pitcher factored in to the decision. Austin Robichaux worked seven innings and yielded five runs (four earned) while Alexander held the Cajuns to four runs (two earned) off five hits in six innings.
The Cajuns 1-2-3-4 hitters finished a combined 2-for-18 and the squad committed four errors. The Panthers collected 14 hits and had five hitters with multiple hits.
Louisiana sent eight batters to the plate in collecting the early 4-0 lead. Kjerstad and Conrad walked to lead off giving UL two runners on base with no outs.
Kjerstad scored on a throwing error by Alexander, then RBI single by Caleb Adams and Blake Trahan created a 3-0 advantage. Michael Strentz executed a squeeze bunt to plate the fourth run, but the Cajuns uprising was ended as the Panthers were able to execute a double play.
It took FIU just three at bats to cut the deficit in half. A Gaines leadoff infield single was followed by an RBI double from Zach Sweety and RBI single by Aramis Garcia.
Alexander and Robichaux settled in and only a single run was plated between the second and sixth inning.
A leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh led to the equalizing run for FIU and later in the inning Garcia would give FIU its first lead of the game with an RBI single.
The teams swapped runs in the eighth inning as the Panthers carried a 6-5 lead into the final regulation frame. Kjerstad kept the Cajuns hopes alive when he took the first offering from Cardenas over the left field fence.
Davis retired UL in order in the 10th inning and a caught stealing of Kjerstad in the 11th inning helped the Panthers makeup for a defensive miscue.
Gaines became the first Panthers hitter to reach base via a hit since the seventh inning when he started off the bottom of the 11th with a single through the left side. After a sacrifice moved Gaines to second, the Cajuns elected to intentionally walk Garcia to set up a double play.
The double play ball never came as Wilson issued a five-pitch walk and Anderson followed with his winning base hit.
BASES NOTED: Louisiana played its second extra innings game of 2013...The Cajuns fell to 0-2 in extra innings (lost 10-9 at WKU on March 29 in 11 innings)...The Cajuns and Panthers began the 10th Sun Belt series between the two clubs in Miami...The Panthers now hold a 16-12 edge over the Cajuns in their home park...Dex Kjerstad's ninth inning home run was his eighth of the season, moving him into a tie with Caleb Adams for the team lead...Blake Trahan remained perfect in stolen bases (10-for-10) collecting his 10th swipe of the season in the eighth inning...Louisiana posted a season-high four sacrifice hits...Austin Robichaux worked seven complete innings for the sixth time in the last seven starts...The Cajuns now have 44 home runs as a team moving the squad within six home runs of reaching 50 for the first time since 2009...Louisiana lost for only the fifth time when scoring five-plus runs (25-5)...Dylan Butler finished 2-for-5 giving him multiple hits for the sixth time in the past eight outings.