LAFAYETTE, La. –Max Marusak got the Louisiana offense going with a two-run homer to center in a four-run third inning and the Ragin’ Cajuns pounded out 16 hits and defeated Arkansas State, 13-5, in the second game of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series on Saturday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Conor Higgs belted his second home run in as many days while Julian Brock hit a grand slam as Louisiana (13-6, 2-0 Sun Belt) scored 13 unanswered runs after A-State (7-10, 0-2 Sun Belt) took a 4-0 lead in the third.
Van Buran, Ark., native Landrey Wilkerson added a pinch-hit home run – a two-run, opposite-field homer – as the Ragin’ Cajuns belted a season-high four long balls on the day off four Red Wolves pitchers.
After a scoreless two innings, A-State scored four times in the third beginning with Blake Burris’ RBI double off Louisiana starter Brendan Moody. Kody Darcy would add a two-run double to center for a 3-0 lead before Darcy scored on a throwing error.
Louisiana would quickly respond when Will Veillon beat out a one-out, infield single and scored one pitch later when Marusak hit a 444-foot blast to center off ASU starter Hunter Draper (0-2).
Heath Hood would cut the deficit to 4-3 when his two-out single scored Ben Robichaux and Peyton LeJeune knotted the game one batter later when he doubled down the left-field line.
Louisiana would put runners on the corner in the fifth when Robichaux and Kyle DeBarge led off the inning with singles before Carson Roccaforte’s grounder to second scored Robichaux for a 5-4 lead.
Higgs, who hit his first career home run with a pinch-hit grand slam in Friday’s 15-4 win, slugged his second pinch-hit home run in as many at-bats as his drive to center off Brian Veniard in the sixth scored Brock for a 7-4 lead.
Brock would belt his second home run of the season in the seventh – his first career grand slam – off Red Wolves reliever Austin Brock for an 11-4 lead before Wilkerson lined a pinch-hit, two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole to put Louisiana ahead, 13-4.
Cooper Rawls (4-0) pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Moody and kept the Red Wolves off the board, allowing three hits and striking out two. Carson Fluno pitched the final 3.2 innings for Louisiana to earn his second save of the season, allowing a pair of hits and striking out two.
A-State, ranked among the national leaders in doubles, collected six extra base hits in the game with Burris recording a pair of doubles with Darcy, Cross Jumper and John Hoskyn each recording doubles. Hunter Thomas added a ninth-inning home run for the Red Wolves, who were playing in their third game away from home.
Draper, one of four pitchers used by the Red Wolves, took the loss scattering seven hits and allowing five runs in 4.1 innings.
The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday. Louisiana will send right-hander Jackson Nezuh (2-0, 11.88 ERA) to the mound in the finale with A-State countering with right-hander Kyler Carmack (1-0, 3.94 ERA).