Cajuns zoom past Arkansas State in Sun Belt play

LAFAYETTE — Dylan Butler’s three-run homer wrapped up the go-ahead rally, and his three-run triple provided all the insurance that Louisiana-Lafayette’s baseball squad needed to lock up their fifth straight Sun Belt Conference series Saturday night.

Those hits helped the Ragin’ Cajuns rally from an early two-run deficit and roll to a 14-6 victory over Arkansas State, on the heels of an 11-4 victory in Friday’s series opener at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

Butler’s third-inning homer — one that gave ULL a home run in 11 straight games — was part of a seven-run rally that gave the Cajuns an 8-3 lead. Two innings later, after the Red Wolves had cut the difference to 8-4, he laced a bases-loaded triple and scored moments later on a wild pitch that made it 12-4 and capped ULL’s fourth rally to win in the last three weeks.

“We basically know we’re going to get it done,” said Butler, who had a six-RBI game for the second time this year. “The big difference between this year and last year is that last year it was guys in the three, four and five spots and that’s all we had. This year, guys like me and (Michael) Strentz are hitting seventh and eighth. We know someone’s going to get it done everywhere in the lineup.”

The Cajuns (33-15, 14-9) had 13 hits for the second straight night, giving them 59 hits in their last four Sun Belt games.

“We did a good job of scoring when we were supposed to score,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “This team’s worked hard learning how not to panic. We just needed to stay the course and get our hitters enough looks.”

The Cajuns entered the weekend leading the nation in home runs (52) and slugging percentage (.496) and have upped those marks in winning the first two games of the series against the Wolves (24-23, 10-13).

It was ASU, though, that got going early Saturday, after ULL scored first on Caleb Adams’ infield ground ball that plated Dex Kjerstad in the first inning. An RBI double by Alex Potts and an RBI single by Dustin Jones, one of two he had in the game, gave the Wolves a 2-1 lead, and Stuart Levy’s third-inning double scored Kevin Fitzpatrick for the two-run lead.

After that, though, ULL starter Cody Boutte (8-2) settled down and allowed only two more hits over the next three innings while his teammates broke things open against ASU starter Brad Wallace (4-2).

ULL loaded the bases with one out in the fourth and Seth Harrison’s two-run single off reliever John Koch tied the game. After a walk to Adams, Blake Trahan followed with a two-run single that gave the Cajuns the lead for good, and two pitches later Butler drove a Koch fastball over the right-field wall to make it 8-3.

“My biggest thing is staying with the approach,” Butler said, “and trying to drive the ball the other way ... mostly just handling the fastball and not missing that.”

Jones’ second RBI single cut the margin to four in the top of the sixth before Butler’s game-clinching triple. Cajun reliever Kody Smith came on to pitch the final three innings, scattering three hits and allowing only a two-out two-run homer to Levy in the ninth.

The win boosted the Cajuns into third place by themselves in the Sun Belt race. The teams wrap up their series at 1 p.m. Sunday.