UL-Lafayette puts up road block, cooling off LSU’s red-hot bats in 2-0 victory to force deciding game for NCAA regional title

LSU center fielder Aliyah Andrews (4) just missed this diving attempt on a ball hit by UL-Lafayette's Jade Gortarez that fell in for what proved to be the difference in Sunday's NCAA regional game - a two-run double in the fourth inning - that lifted the Ragin' Cajuns past the Tigers, 2-0. Photo by Jonathan Mailhes.

LSU’s high-scoring offense during NCAA regional play was stopped in its tracks, thanks to a stifling performance UL-Lafayette’s Kandra Lamb who helped the Ragin’ Cajuns stay alive with a 2-0 victory Sunday in the first championship game in the Baton Rouge regional.

Second-seeded UL-Lafayette (47-11) forced the if necessary game in the double-elimination tournament against top-seeded LSU (34-20) which is scheduled for a 3:45 start where a berth in next week’s super regional will be on the line.

Lamb (17-4) silenced an LSU offense which had scored 20 runs and totaled 29 hits through the first two rounds of the regional, including 10 runs on 17 hits in Saturday’s 10-3 victory over the Cajuns.

The 6-foot-2 native of Australia allowed three hits – all singles – and extended her scoreless streak in the postseason to 22 innings with her complete-game shutout on 97 pitches, becoming the fourth pitcher this season to shutout the Tigers. She didn’t allow a base runner to reach third base and didn’t walk a batter to go along with five strikeouts.

LSU starter Ali Kilponen (14-7) allowed two runs on four hits, striking out five without a walk. She ended the game by retiring the last 11 batters she faced.

LSU, which defeated UL-Lafayette three times this season, was able to get a pair of runners on base in both the second and sixth innings, but each time Lamb was able to avoid any further trouble.

Ciara Briggs picked up the Tigers second hit of the game with a single to left and Taylor Pleasants followed with another single down left-field line, but Amanda Doyle bounced into a fielder’s choice in which Briggs was forced at third and Georgia Clark’s fly ball to right was caught on the warning track.

Clark had a one-out single in the second and Raeleen Gutierrez drew a walk, but Lamb for Shelbi Sunseri swinging at strike three and Morgan Cummins popped out to the infield.

UL-Lafayette broke through with its two runs against Kilponen in the third.

The Tigers recorded the first out of the inning at home plate when Pleasants gunned down Sophie Piskos trying to score from third on a ground ball off the bat of Kaitlyn Alderink.

Cummins took the throw and applied a one-handed tag that she maintained after absorbing contact from Piskos, the Cajuns’ catcher.

Second baseman Jade Gortarez sent a sinking liner just out of the reach of a diving Aliyah Andrews of LSU in center field, a ball that went to all the way to the wall, allowing both Ciara Bryan and Alderink to score.

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William Weathers

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