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Baseball: Cajun crushing – No. 2 UL demolishes Green Wave, 16-0

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, April 2, 2014

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With six Ragin’ Cajun pitchers combining on a three-hitter and UL batters pounding out a season high-tying 22 hits, winning wasn’t a problem Tuesday night.

Neither was enjoying it.

All of the Cajuns seemed to be feeling pretty good after a 16-0 non-conference win over Tulane in front of 3,961 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field that featured homers from Tyler Girouard and Evan Powell and a boatload of UL arms that little trouble dealing with the Green Wave.

“You couldn’t ask for a better game than tonight,” pitcher Matt Hicks said after UL, ranked No. 2 nationally by Collegiate Baseball and now 27-3, ended a nine-game homestand in which it went 8-1.

“We came out from the get-go and swung the bat and got something started. We were able to beat Tulane pretty early, and the score – that was the result of it,” Cajun centerfielder Seth Harrison added. “I think their pitchers just kind of gave up a little bit, and they just started leaving pitches in the zone, and, with our team, that’s something you don’t want to do.”

Caleb Adams, Jace Conrad and Dylan Butler each had three hits for UL, which led the nation in homers last season. Powell, Butler and Chase Compton all had three RBIs, and Conrad scored three runs.

Just how well did the Cajuns hit Tuesday?

Consider: They went into the game with a team batting average of .310, and by night’s end it had skyrocketed to .319.

That’s now fifth-best in the country this season.

“We were just hot,” said Adams, who was 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. “We were getting the pitches we wanted to hit, and we were capitalizing on it and driving the ball.”

With UL already up 5-0 on two runs in the first inning and one each in the second, third and fourth, Girouard had a solo home run to right in the fifth.

Later in the inning Butler followed with a single up the middle to score Adams, who had tripled.

Powell’s homer, a three-run shot to left when he was pinching-hitting for Ryan Leonards, was part of a six-run sixth for the Cajuns that doused any doubt in a game that didn’t seem to have many.

Still not satisfied, UL added three more in the eighth as Butler drove in Kyle Clement, Conrad scored on Compton’s sacrifice fly and Butler scored as Blake Trahan reached on a throwing error.

The only inning in which the Cajuns came to the plate but didn’t score was the seventh.

“(The hitting) was contagious,” said UL coach Tony Robichaux, whose club – ranked No. 1 at the time by Collegiate Baseball – had its 14-game win streak ended by Western Kentucky on Saturday before bouncing back to win the final two outings of that Sun Belt Conference series.

“I think it was set up with good pitching and good defense,” Robichaux added, “and that’s what we really wanted coming off an emotional weekend.”

Tulane, meanwhile, had no one reach second base after leadoff Richard Carthon did with a single and a hit batter in the first.

Cajuns pitchers faced only three batters above the minimum.

Quick-working Hicks, a senior reliever who is UL’s all-time saves leader, went a pre-planned three innings in his first career start and allowed only two of Tulane’s three hits.

Ben Carter gave up the other in his 2.0 innings, but the Green Wave couldn’t touch Ryan Wilson, Matt Plitt, Riley Cooper or closer Reagan Bazar in their short stints.

“They did a great job,” said Robichaux, whose Cajuns have beaten Tulane twice this season and travel this weekend to Troy for a three-game Sun Belt series.

“Every one of them came in and (did what was needed). No human rain delay, everybody out there getting after it and charging the strike zone. When you do that, it creates a good tempo for the night.

“Matt Hicks will set a very good tempo,” he added, “and that’s why we started him.”

LAGNIAPPE: The Cajuns also had 22 runs in their 21-2 win at UL Monroe earlier this season. … UL is now 8-0 in midweek games and 11-0 against teams from Louisiana. … Adams took his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 24, Conrad extended his to 20 and Harrison stretched his to 18. Conrad now has at least one hit in 14 straight games. … Tuesday marked UL’s sixth shutout of season and its first since beating Texas Southern 13-0 on March 8. … UL, ranked fourth in four other national polls, checked in at No. 11 in the NCAA’s initial RPI posting Tuesday.