Ragin’ Cajuns look for rebound at Western Kentucky

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky is tied for first place in the Sun Belt Conference baseball standings.

Louisiana-Lafayette, surprisingly, is fifth.

This weekend, the Hilltoppers will try to keep it up. The Ragin’ Cajuns, naturally, will try to knock them down a little — and, in the process, climb a little higher.

The teams begin their three-game series at 6 p.m. Friday at Nick Denes Field.

WKU (14-11, 5-1) has started Sun Belt play with wins in five of its first six games, marking the fourth time in the last five years that the Hilltoppers have stood at 5-1 or better after the first two weekends of conference baseball. A sweep this weekend would give them an 8-1 league record; that would tie them for the best Sun Belt start in school history.

ULL (18-6, 3-3), for its part, was off to a fine start, having swept Louisiana-Monroe two weekends ago. But the Cajuns tumbled last week, dropping all three games at Middle Tennessee. They rebounded to defeat Southeastern Louisiana 9-6 in a nonconference game Tuesday. Matt Hicks pitched the final 3.2 innings to collect his school-record-tying 12th career save.

Tyler Girouard carries a nine-game hitting streak into the WKU series. He has been ULL’s hottest hitter in March, having hit .457 with 12 runs scored and 14 RBIs.

The Hilltoppers will send left-handed starter Austin Clay (3-1, 2.18) to the mound in the opener Friday, followed by junior Andrew Edwards (1-1, 5.13) and senior Tim Bado (2-2, 3.82).

ULL will counter with left-hander Ryan Wilson (2-1, 2.32), right-hander Austin Robichaux (3-1, 3.21) and left-hander (4-1, 4.59).

Western Kentucky has won four of the past six games against Louisiana-Lafayette in Bowling Green.