Arkansas State baseball falls to Louisiana in Sun Belt opener
Louisiana scored seven runs in the first inning on Friday night, getting off to a hot start to defeat the Arkansas State baseball team 15-4 in the Sun Belt Conference opener at M.L. Tigue Moore Field at Russo Park.
Cross Jumper led A-State (7-9, 0-1 SBC) at the plate, recording two of the Red Wolves’ six hits, including a double. Blake Burris, Brayden Caskey, Allen Grier and Jared Toler each scored a run.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (12-6, 1-0) pounded out 14 hits on the night and added two runs in the sixth before tacking on six in the eighth to expand the lead. Starting pitcher Jake Hammond (2-1) struck out 10 batters and did not allow a walk in seven innings, scattering four hits and allowing an unearned run.
Louisiana touched A-State starting pitcher Tyler Jeans (1-2) for seven runs on four hits – all doubles – and sending 11 men to the plate. Junior righty Aaron Evers relieved Jeans in the second and worked three shutout frames to keep the hosts from adding to their 7-0 lead. Jeans and Evers were two of eight pitchers used by the Scarlet and Black.
After a two-out single by Brandon Hager in the first, Hammond retired 10 straight before back-to-back hits by Caskey and Jumper put runners at second and third with no outs. Caskey scampered home on a pickoff attempt to second, but the Cajuns starter limited the damage by striking out the side.
Max Charlton pitched a scoreless fifth before Louisiana added to its lead with two runs in the sixth on three singles and an error to make it 9-1 after six. After Jacob Conover struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh, the Red Wolves pushed across two runs in the eighth when Grier scored on a wild pitch, followed by Burris scoring on a fielder’s choice to make it 9-3.
The Cajuns sent a dozen batters to the plate in the eighth and added six runs to their total, including a pinch-hit grand slam by Conor Higgs to make it 15-3.
Toler led off the ninth with a double and came around to score on an RBI groundout by Grier, but Louisiana reliever Jerry Couch forced a flyout to end the contest.
A-State looks to bounce back and even the series against the Ragin’ Cajuns Saturday afternoon in the second game of the series. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. on ESPN+ while the radio broadcast will be carried on The Ticket Radio Network stations 95.3, 96.9 and 970 AM in Jonesboro, as well as online at 953theticket.com.
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