JONESBORO, Ark. — Louisiana-Lafayette came into this three-game series knowing it could clinch the Sun Belt Conference title with a sweep.
Thanks to Carson Baranik, they’re one win away.
The junior right-hander threw a complete-game two-hitter Saturday, striking out seven and walking none as the Ragin’ Cajuns cruised to a 7-0 victory over second-place Arkansas State in front 1,009 fans — the largest crowd in Tomlinson Stadium history.
Saturday’s win clinched the 13th consecutive weekend series for UL-Lafayette (43-6, 20-3), which owns the best winning percentage in the nation at .878.
The Cajuns never had to worry in this one. Baranik made sure of it. One week after his first loss — he gave up six runs in 3.1 innings last week in a 10-3 loss at Texas State, easily his worst outing of the season — Baranik made quick, easy work of the Red Wolves (26-21, 14-9).
He needed only 84 pitches and faced one more than the minimum, and he retired final 15 batters he faced.
“We got off to a good start and they kicked the ball around a bit,” coach Tony Robichaux said of ASU, which committed two errors.
“We built a good lead early and then tacked on a couple more, and that was really all that we needed. They had a good arm tonight and we were able to match them. Baranik was able to locate his stuff all night and did a good job of keeping the ball down and getting ahead of hitters.”
With a win Sunday, the Cajuns can clinch at least a share of the Sun Belt title. A UL-Lafayette win coupled with a Texas State loss would give the Cajuns the outright championship.
Texas State hosts Troy at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Bradley Wallace (3-4) took the loss for ASU despite tying a career high with 12 strikeouts. Wallace gave up five runs on eight hits in seven innings.
Tyler Girouard was 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and run scored for the Cajuns, who scored three times in the top of the second to take a 3-0 lead.
Chase Compton was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI, and Seth Harrison had a game-high two RBIs.
“We are set up good for a championship, and that’s what we have done all the grinding for,” Robichaux added. “We just need to come out tomorrow and continue to compete.”
Senior left-hander Cody Boutte (6-0, 2.58) will start Sunday’s game for UL-Lafayette. The Red Wolves will counter with right-hander Tanner Gaines (3-0, 3.86).