ULL baseball team comes alive in 5-1 win over Nicholls State

LAFAYETTE — For seven innings Wednesday night, Louisiana-Lafayette’s bats were just as silent as they were one night earlier in a loss to LSU.

ULL had only four hits in the first seven innings against Nicholls State pitching, and the teams were deadlocked in a pitchers’ duel.

That was before Dex Kjerstad and Seth Harrison came up with two clutch singles in the eighth inning, plating three runs and boosting the Cajuns to a 5-1 win over the Colonels in front of 1,766 fans at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

Kjerstad ha a two-run single through the hole into left field that scored Ryan Wilson and Jace Conrad with one out in the eighth for his third hit of the game. Harrison followed with a single up the middle to score Blake Trahan and give ULL (8-2) some breathing room.

That was enough for Cajun reliever Matt Hicks (2-0), who retired the Colonels in order on three ground balls in the top of the ninth.

“We were finally able to put a little pressure on them there,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said of the eighth-inning uprising. “He (Kjerstad) got a ground ball to go through, and that’s a good sign when we can start putting pressure on people in that kind of situation.”

The late rally made a winner of Hicks, who came on to start the eighth inning in relief of Wilson. Wilson, making his second start, scattered seven hits and fanned three through seven innings, allowing a lone run in the fifth. Nicholls’ Tyler Duplantis led off that fifth inning with a single up the middle, moved up on David Zorn’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Cody Dufrene’s one-out single to left.

Wilson worked out of trouble often, stranding runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings after facing the minimum number over the first three frames.

“He pitched very effectively,” Robichaux said. “He threw strikes, trusted his stuff and trusted his defense. That’s a good team he was throwing against ... they were coming off a win over Tulane last night, but we pitched well, came up with the timely hit and played really good defense.”

The Cajuns, who dropped an 11-2 decision to the Tigers on Tuesday night, scored in the first off Nicholls starter Grant Borne on Kjerstad’s leadoff single, a double by Michael Strentz and Tyler Girouard’s line-drive sacrifice fly to left.

Borne was relieved by Justin Cinibaldi in the sixth for the Colonels (6-3), and he threw two scoreless innings before giving way to Kelby Langston (0-1) in the eighth. Chase Compton led off that inning with a single before being forced on a failed sacrifice bunt by Wilson, but Langston walked Conrad and Trahan to load the bases to set up Kjerstad’s eventual game-winner.

After Harrison’s hit made it 4-1, Kjerstad scored an insurance run on Girouard’s one-out ground ball before Hicks retired Zorn, pinch hitter Adam Seal and Leo Vargas in order in the ninth.

Philip Lyons and Keith Cormier each had two hits for the Colonels, who had won three straight entering Wednesday’s game.