May 25, 2013 7:41 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - The Ragin' Cajuns baseball team advanced to Championship Sunday in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field with a 12-2 run-rule victory over South Alabama in a bracket final contest here Saturday afternoon.
Louisiana (41-17) scored multiple runs in four of the first five innings in cruising past the Jaguars (42-18). A Cajuns pitcher recorded a complete game effort a second straight day as Ryan Wilson tossed all seven innings.
The victory sets up a matchup with Florida Atlantic (38-20) at 1 p.m. on Sunday for the tournament championship. The game will be broadcast live by the Sun Belt Network which will air on CSS/CST.
It will be Louisiana's first appearance in the title game since the 2007 event at Eddie Stanky Field in Mobile. The Cajuns will attempt to win the SBC Tournament for the first time since 1998 - the first and only time UL won the league's postseason event since joining the league in 1992.
The bottom of the Cajuns lineup produced the bulk of the damage. Michael Strentz, Blake Trahan and Chase Compton, hitting 7-8-9, combined to go 6-for-8 with seven runs scored and six RBI.
Dex Kjerstad picked up his 29th multiple-hit game and 16th with at least three hits finishing 3-for-4. Seth Harrison launched the team's 70th home run of the season in the first inning.
Wilson limited the Jaguars to four hits and struck out six. It was the second straight day that a UL pitcher limited USA to exactly four hits.
Louisiana produced nine-plus runs and double digit hits for the third straight game in the SBC Tournament. Through three games the Cajuns offense has produced 30 runs off 38 hits.
Harrison's home run came just three batters into the contest and staked the tournament hosts to a 2-0 lead. The Cajuns added two more runs in the second inning on a Trahan sacrifice fly and Compton squeeze bunt to extend the lead to 4-0.
USA reliever Brandon Boyle pitched the first and only scoreless frame that Jaguars pitching would record in the contest by stranding a pair of Cajuns baserunners in the third inning.
The teams swapped two-run frames in the fourth inning resulting in a 6-2 lead for UL. The Cajuns would then put the game out of reach with a three-spot in the fifth inning.
Caleb Adams singled with one out and advanced to second on a groundout by Ryan Leonards. Strentz singled bringing home Adams, then moved to second on the throw home and advanced to third on a throwing error. A Trahan double down the left-field line scored Strentz and Compton followed with another double for the Cajuns to score Trahan and increase the lead to 9-2.
The Cajuns added an unearned run in the sixth inning and two more unearned runs in the seventh to create a 10-run lead. USA was unable to muster any offense in the bottom half of the seventh ending the game by mercy rule.
With the win Louisiana extended its winning streak to a season-high seven games. It was the Cajuns third straight win over the Jaguars (won season series finale and twice in SBC Tournament).
The Cajuns also increased their win improvement over last season's 23-30 record to 18 games, tying the 1997 squad for the largest turnaround in the Tony Robichaux era.
BASES NOTED: Seth Harrison's home run in the first inning gave Louisiana 70 home runs for the first time since 2007 (hit 76 that season)...The Cajuns improved to 33-3 when producing double figure hits and remained undefeated (16-0) when scoring double figure runs...Dex Kjerstad extended his season-best hitting streak to 12 games...Kjerstad is two shy of tying Tyler Girouard and Ryan Leonards (14-game streaks) for the longest hit streak by a Cajuns player this year...Kjerstad tops the Cajuns hitting .667 (8-of-12) in the Sun Belt Tournament...As a team, Louisiana enters Championship Sunday hitting .376 and slugging .614 in the 2013 SBC Tournament...Cajuns pitching has allowed just 22 hits over 25 innings pitched in the event...Louisiana's bullpen has pitched just 8 2/3 innings during the SBC Tournament...The 10-run margin of victory marked the Cajuns 21st triumph of six-plus runs...Dex Kjerstad now has 91 base hits, leaving him 10 shy of the school record 101 hits posted by Nathan Nelson in 2000...Jace Conrad picked up his 30th RBI giving UL eight of nine starters with at least 30 RBI...Ryan Leonards and Chase Compton (both at 29 RBI) need one more RBI to give Louisiana 10 different players with at least 30 RBI...In the two wins over South Alabama to advance to Championship Sunday, the Ragin' Cajuns outscored the Jaguars 21-4...The Cajuns season run differential is now +160 outscoring the opposition 445-285...Louisiana out-hit the opposition for the 36th time in 58 games and improved to 35-1 when the team's hits outweight the opposition....Louisiana took 2-of-3 from Florida Atlantic in a weekend series at "The Tigue" April 19-21 with a two-run home run by the Owls in the ninth inning of the middle game being the lone factor that prevented the Cajuns from sweeping the series...In the series finale the Cajuns run-ruled FAU 12-2 in seven innings behind a sterling pitching effort from Cody Boutte who did not allow an Owls base hit until the fifth inning.
Louisiana 12, South Alabama 2 (May 25, 2013 at Lafayette, La.)
Louisiana........... 220 231 2 - 12 12 0 (41-17)
South Alabama....... 000 200 0 - 2 4 4 (42-18)
Pitchers: Louisiana - Wilson, Ryan. South Alabama - Noble, Jacob; Boyle, Brandon (3); Billingsley, Cole (5); Patterson, Jordan (7)
Win-Wilson, Ryan (6-4) Loss-Noble, Jacob (5-3) T-1:52 A-1612
HR UL - Harrison, Seth (9)
Weather: 83, partly cldy, ESE @ 6 MPH
Billingsley faced 2 batters in the 7th