Louisiana Walks Off South Alabama 5-4 in 11 Inning Classic
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns beat the South Alabama Jaguars 5-4 in an 11-inning classic featuring a dominant performance by pitcher Bo Bonds and a walk-off hit by shortstop Kyle DeBarge.
Louisiana broke their losing streak and improved to 10-11 overall and 1-3 in Sun Belt play. Head coach Matt Deggs complimented Bonds for his incredible performance on the mound for the Cajuns.
"Bo had the performance of his life," Deggs said. "That was a hero right there. He's learning the art of pitching. That's probably what allowed him to stay out there for quite a while."
Bonds threw 96 pitches out of the bullpen. In 5.2 innings pitched, he allowed only three hits, one walk, and one run. He struck out 14 Jaguars in the game.
Deggs also talked about DeBarge after he came away with the walk-off hit.
"He's a winner," Deggs said. "That's all he's ever done. He doesn't get too down on himself. He came back and we had the right guy at the plate for sure."
The Jaguars scored first on a two-out rally in the opening frame, but Louisiana answered by scoring once in each of the first three innings. The Cajuns had a 3-1 lead after three following a two-out RBI-triple by Will Veillon.
South Alabama hit a huge clutch two-out two-RBI single on starting pitcher Brandon Talley to tie the game in the top of the fourth, and that was the last time either team would score before extra innings.
The rest of regulation can be explained simply. Bonds was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for Louisiana and he was absolutely fantastic. He struck out 12 of the 17 batters he faced in regulation after coming in with two outs in the fifth inning.
On the other end, Louisiana's offense could not come up with a clutch hit. With two runners in scoring position and one out, two strikeouts ended the sixth inning. In the eighth, the team had runners at the corners without any outs, and three straight strikeouts extinguished the threat.
While Bonds continued mowing down the Jaguars in dominant fashion, the bottom of the ninth came around. Max Marusak hit a leadoff double, and a sacrifice bunt put him at third base with one out. However, on an attempted squeeze play, a bunt by DeBarge popped up to the pitcher who was able to double up the Cajuns by catching Marusak at third base. Louisiana was incredibly close to finishing the game in regulation, but the two teams went to extra innings.
Bonds continued his work into the 10th inning, striking out two more Jaguars in a clean frame. Veillon walked with one out and stole second base in the bottom half of the inning, but a groundout and a fly-out left him in scoring position.
A solo home run by the Jaguars gave them their first lead since the first inning. It also ended Bonds' night. Chipper Menard came in and was able to get the final two outs.
Louisiana was 0-16 with runners in scoring position before the 11th inning. However, after Julian Brock walked to leadoff the inning and advanced to second base on a groundout, Marusak broke the streak with a RBI-single to tie the game. He advanced to second on the throw, allowing DeBarge to walk off the Jaguars with a RBI-single in the 5-4 win.
Bonds allowed Louisiana to stay in the game despite the offense blowing multiple scoring opportunities. When they finally trailed in the 11th inning, Marusak and DeBarge were the two Cajuns that sent Louisiana fans home elated.
Up next, Louisiana and South Alabama play game two of their weekend series on Saturday, March 26 at 2:00 p.m.