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Baseball: Big bats produce 12-9 win for Cajuns

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 16, 2014

It was a throw-whatever-is-in-the-kitchen-cupboard kind of night.

But with the big bat of Greg Davis, the calming influence of Matt Hicks and the dominant closing effort of Ryan Wilson, the No. 3-ranked UL baseball had the main ingredients needed to enjoy the aftertaste.

The Ragin’ Cajuns rallied from three runs down to beat UL Monroe 12-9 in front of 3,750 at M.L. "Tigue" Field on Thursday night, improving to 47-7 overall and 24-4 in Sun Belt Conference play while taking the first game of a three-game series that continues tonight.

The Cajuns, trailing 8-3 going into the bottom of the fourth and 9-7 after five-and-a-half innings, took the lead for good with a three-run sixth inning sparked by Davis’ two-run triple to right.

Click here for the video of post game interviews.
The UL baseball team takes the first game of the final regular season series. Chad Washington, The Advertiser

We’ve just been real good all year," UL coach Tony Robichaux said, "at being able to answer back."

Hicks (6-1) entered in the fourth inning to throw 2.2 innings and settle things down for the Cajuns, and Wilson threw 3.0 perfect innings to end it and record his seventh save of the season.

"Hicks can do so much," Robichaux said after the senior reliever matched his career-high for strikeouts with five. "He works fast, he throws strikes. (And) the one thing he can do is he turn the momentum of the game back around, and that’s what he came in and did."

ULM jumped to an early 2-0 lead off of UL starter Greg Milhorn, and UL answered with three runs in the bottom of the second as Seth Harrison delivered a two-run triple and later scored on a wild pitch.

The Warhawks went back up 6-3 with four runs in the third, all charged to Milhorn, including Dalton Herrington’s two-run homer.

But UL got two back in the bottom of the inning as Davis delivered a two-run home run to right, which, combined with the triple, gave him 12 RBIs in UL’s last three games.

A reserve who starts mostly at first base against left-handed pitching, the Cajuns did what they had to find a place for him in the lineup. They did so by starting him at third over Ryan Leonards, who rested a mild ankle injury early and entered as a defensive replacement late.

"It’s hard to sit him," Robichaux said of Davis, who was 6-for-8 with a double, a grand slam and eight RBI in two wins at South Alabama last weekend.

"We toyed with that all day long, and we felt we could rest Ryan a little bit and not have any type of dropoff, and we didn’t."

Davis, who also scored on Dylan Butler squeeze bunt in the sixth, was happy to play.

But he would have understood if he had not.

"It keeps you hot," Davis said. "But, at the same time, Leno (Leonards) is just as good."

Hicks entered in the fourth, with UL down 8-5 and a man on third, and promptly struck out two Warhawks.

"When you go in a situation like that, that’s all you can do (is calm things)," Hicks said. "We know our hitters are gonna hit, dgfense is gonna play behind us, so our job as pitchers is just to go in there and try to get it over the plate."

"Matt killed their momentum," Davis added, "and gave us all the momentum, and we just ran with it from there."

The Cajuns scored two runs in the bottom of the inning as Jace Conrad and Caleb Adams both delivered RBIs.

ULM did get one off of Hicks in the fifth, but after UL’s three-run sixth the Cajuns added single runs in the seventh and eighth as Adams had another RBI, scoring Harrison, and Dylan Butler blasted a solo shot over the scoreboard in left-center.

"He hit that pretty good," Robichaux said of Butler’s homer.

Wilson closed the door by retiring all nine batters, giving him his sixth save in his last seven outings.

Conrad, Adams among Dick Howser finalists

UL second baseman Jace Conrad and left fielder Caleb Adams were among 35 players named Thursday as semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy.

The award, which recognizes the top player in collegiate baseball, has been presented annually since 1987.

Conrad, a Lafayette High product, is hitting .376 with a team-high 17 doubles for the No. 3-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns.

Adams, from Texarkana, Texas, has a team-best .388 batting average and a team-leading 10 home runs after going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored in the 47-7 Cajuns’ 12-9 win over UL Monroe on Thursday night.

Adams also is on the 30-man midseason watch list for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award.

– Tim Buckley

UL Monroe at No. 3 UL

WHAT: Middle game of three-game Sun Belt Conference series

WHERE: M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.

WHEN: 6 p.m., Friday.

RECORDS: ULM 22-32, 11-17; UL 47-7, 24-4.

RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker

TV: None tonight

PITCHING MATCHUP: UL junior RHP Carson Baranik (9-1, 3.02) vs. junior RHP Chris Hunt (2-4, 5.03 ERA)