Taylor’s blast, Cajuns pitching enough in 6-1 win over Texas State
Nezuh, Rawls combine for Louisiana’s first one-hitter since 2018; will face Coastal on Thursday
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Jackson Nezuh and Cooper Rawls combined on Louisiana’s first one-hitter in over five years while John Taylor’s three-run blast in the fourth inning broke up a scoreless contest and guided the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 6-1 win over Texas State in the 2023 Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship on Wednesday at Riverwalk Stadium.
Fourth-seeded Louisiana (37-20) advanced to face top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Coastal Carolina (38-17) in a winner’s bracket game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The 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.
Nezuh (9-5) did not allow a hit and tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings on the mound for Louisiana. Rawls pitched the final 3.1 innings to earn his second save of the season and helped Louisiana to its first combined one-hitter since Nick Lee and Brock Batty against South Alabama on March 9, 2018.
The right-hander opened the contest with fifth-seeded Texas State (35-22) with a pair of outs before the Bobcats loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a hit batter. Nezuh would get out of the jam as he fanned Cade Manning to keep Texas State off the board.
Nezuh retired seven straight batters before a leadoff walk to Daylan Pena in the fourth inning. The Bobcats would get three more base runners on before Nezuh was replaced by Cooper Rawls in the sixth inning.
Louisiana picked up three hits in the first three innings off Texas State starter Levi Wells (8-4) before breaking the game open in the fourth.
Conor Higgs drew a one-out walk and Heath Hood hit a two-out, opposite-field single before Taylor launched his seventh home run of the season – a 390-foot blast to right – to give the Ragin’ Cajuns all the runs they would need.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added a pair of runs in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead as Julian Brock’s double to right scored CJ Willis and Kyle DeBarge.
Texas State managed its first hit in the seventh inning after Alex Gonzales and Ben McClain each drew walks off Rawls. Kameron Weil would beat out an infield single to load the bases with no outs, but Rawls would get a double play and strikeout to minimize the damage and limited the Bobcats to a run.
Louisiana answered in the bottom of the seventh when DeBarge drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on Carson Roccaforte’s RBI double to right.
Hood led Louisiana at the plate going 2-for-4. Roccaforte recorded his 23rd double of the season to move into a tie for second-place in school history – and two off the school record (25) set by Kevin Meyers in 1989.
Wells took the loss for Texas State after surrendering five runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work. The right-hander fanned five before Triston Dixon and Cameron Bush combined to allow one hit over the final 3.0 innings.
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Thursday, May 25
Game 7 – No. 7 seed James Madison vs. No. 6 seed App State, 9:00 a.m. CT
Game 8 – No. 8 seed Georgia State vs. No. 5 seed Texas State 12:30 p.m. CT
Game 9 – No. 3 seed Troy vs. No. 2 seed Southern Miss, 4:00 p.m. CT
Game 10 – No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina vs. No. 4 seed Louisiana, 7:30 p.m. CT
Friday, May 26
Game 11 – Loser Game 9 vs. Winer Game 7, 3:00 p.m. CT
Game 12 – Loser Game 10 vs. Winner Game 8, 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 27
Game 13 – Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 11, 9:00 a.m. CT
Game 14 – Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 12, 12:30 p.m. CT
If Necessary – 4:00 p.m. CT
If Necessary – 7:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, May 28
Championship Game – 1:00 p.m. CT
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