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Ragin’ Cajuns pull off upset in first game of day

The No. 5 Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns defeated No. 4 Florida International 11-3 in the first game of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Wednesday morning at Riddle-Pace Field. ULL starting pitcher Zach Osborne put on a show for the crowd.

Osborne pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on seven hits and striking out seven batters.

“We knew we were facing a good hitting ball club, so you have to give a lot of credit to Zach for being able to cut up some very good hitters,” ULL head coach Tony Robichaux said. “For him to be able to go the distance for us and keep out of our bullpen is huge.”

ULL’s offense provided Osborne with support early and often, as the Ragin’ Cajuns pushed across five runs in the first inning.

“It’s always nice on the road to get ahead early and take a lot of stress off of me,” Osborne said.

The big blow in that inning was a three-run home run by Scott Hawkins that cleared Riddle-Pace Field’s monster right field wall.

FIU answered in the bottom half of the first, scoring two runs off Osborne on a pair of RBI singles by Tyler Townsend and Tim Jobe.

Osborne settled down and allowed just one more run the rest of the way.

ULL would build its lead by scoring two runs in each of the fifth and seventh innings.

Both of the runs in the fifth inning were unearned, while the two runs in the seventh inning came from a Tyler Benzel RBI triple and an RBI sacrifice fly by Kyle Olasin.

Hawkins and Alex Fuselier led ULL by each going 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBIs.

FIU head coach Turtle Thomas said he could see the apprehension in his team.

“I certainly thought we showed some nerves after not being in the tournament for a few years,” Thomas said. “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit and we didn’t field the ball very well.”

ULL will take on top seed Middle Tennessee today at 4 p.m.

FIU will meet in-state rival No. 8 Florida Atlantic at 9 a.m. today.