Ragin’ Cajuns eliminate Bobcats, earn rematch with top-seeded Coastal Carolina at SBC tourney

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Kyle DeBarge kept up his torrid pace at the 2023 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship going 4-for-4 with four runs scored while Carson Roccaforte drove in five runs and tied the single-season record for doubles in leading the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a 12-6 win over Texas State in an elimination game on Friday at Riverwalk Stadium.

Louisiana (38-21), which swept a five-game series against Texas State (36-23), advanced to play top-seeded Coastal Carolina (39-17) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. A win by the Ragin’ Cajuns would force a second game with the winner advancing to Sunday’s championship game against either Southern Miss or App State.

Saturday’s game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with fans able to listen to the game in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM (96.5) and worldwide on the Varsity Network app.

Louisiana scored quickly in the first inning as Max Marusak belted the first pitch off Texas State starter Zeke Wood (2-4) for a double – his third leadoff double in five games against the Bobcats – before moving to third on DeBarge’s sacrifice bunt and scoring on Roccaforte’s sacrifice fly to left.

Roccaforte, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, gave Louisiana the lead in the third when his base hit to right caromed off Kameron Weil, allowing DeBarge to score and Roccaforte to move into scoring position on the error for a 2-1 lead.

Conor Higgs followed as he reached on a error with Roccaforte scoring from second and increasing Louisiana’s lead to 3-1.

The Ragin’ Cajuns added three runs in the fourth as Marusak drove in John Taylor with a sacrifice fly and Higgs lined a two-run double to right to plate CJ Willis and DeBarge, who improved to 13-for-19 (.684) at the plate in six career games at Riverwalk Stadium.

Texas State scored a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and once in the sixth to close to within 8-5 when Weil scored on a fielder’s choice. DeBarge added an RBI single in the seventh to drive in Willis for a 9-5 lead before the Bobcats’ Ben McClain drove in Ryder Hernandez with an RBI single to right.

Roccaforte then cleared the bases in the ninth when his double – his 25th of the season to tie Kevin Meyers’ school record set in 1989 – scored Willis, Marusak and DeBarge and put the game away.

Freshman Steven Cash (1-1), a native of Centreville, Ala., earned his first collegiate victory for Louisiana after pitching 1.0 innings in relief. Junior JT Etheridge, a native of Sweet Water, Ala., pitched the final 2.0 innings for Louisiana with four strikeouts to earn his first Division I save.

Wood allowed four earned runs and struck out five in 3.1 innings for Texas State. Weil went 3-for-4 at the plate for the Bobcats with Chase Mora going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI.

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