MONROE — The Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team struck last in a back-and-forth affair against Louisiana-Monroe, and closer Dylan Moore made sure the Warhawks wouldn’t have much of a chance to answer in a 5-4, series-clinching win to open a doubleheader Saturday.
The Cajuns (33-20, 17-11 Sun Belt) brought home two runs in the seventh inning to take a two-run lead and, after surrendering one back to UL-Monroe (25-28, 12-17) in the eighth, called on Moore for a four-out save.
Moore allowed a one-out infield single in the ninth but otherwise only allowed one ball to leave the infield as he picked up his ninth save.
Will Bacon (4-2), who fired 3.1 innings in relief of starter Evan Guillory, earned the win. But the early stars were all on the offensive side.
Evan Powell, batting in the No. 9 spot, gave the Cajuns an early lead when he took Warhawks left-handed Trey Setzer for a ride in the second inning. Powell hit the scoreboard behind the wall in left-center for a solo home run.
But UL-Monroe was quick to respond. After starter Evan Guillory retired the first six batters he faced, designated hitter Spencer Hemphill ripped a single back up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt, the Warhawks’ No. 9 hitter did some damage of his own.
Dalton Todd, who struck out four times and grounded into a double play in the first game of the series Thursday, doubled to straight-away center to score Hemphill easily. Todd then wheeled around to score on Kodie Tidwell’s single, giving the Warhawks a 2-1 lead.
Setzer settled into a groove after the Powell home run, retiring eight straight. But Powell broke the streak with a sharp single, and he took advantage of two wild pitches to score the tying run in the fifth.
The teams kept trading punches. The Warhawks chased starter Evan Guillory in the bottom of the fifth after a pair of walks set up another RBI single by Tidwell that put them back ahead by one. The Cajuns responded with a pair of two-out singles that knotted the score back up.
But when it came time for UL-Monroe to answer back, it couldn’t find the big hit. Bacon gave up a two-out triple in the sixth, but he struck out Hemphill to strand the runner at third and keep the Warhawks off the scoreboard.
And the Cajuns’ bats kept rolling.
They brought home two runs in the seventh thanks to a pair of two-out bloop hits by Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Kyle Clement and Stefan Trosclair.
The Warhawks had one more rally left in them, when Keelin Rasch drilled a double down the line and scored on Danny Springer’s two-out single to cut the deficit to one, but Robichaux then summoned Moore, who shut them down.
The Warhawks need to win the second of Saturday’s doubleheader to keep their conference tournament hopes alive. The Cajuns can rise to the No. 2 seed with a win and a South Alabama win against Troy.