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Baseball: Cajuns Sweep Trojans

Senior Mickles responds with five strong innings in first start at UL

One of UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux’s credos is for his players to be ready when opportunity knocks.

Kyle Mickles has been waiting and waiting and waiting for his opportunity, and it came early Sunday morning.

The senior from Baton Rouge found out after the Cajuns’ chapel service that he was getting the ball, getting the mound start for UL’s final regular-season home game, and he responded.

Mickles turned in five solid innings in his first collegiate start, and set the Cajuns up for a 9-5 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock in the finale of their Sun Belt Conference Series.

"Coach told me after chapel that I had the ball today," Mickles said. "Everyone in there started clapping and that made it pretty special. I’ve been around these guys for three years and they’re all good friends. Guys like that make it easy to come to the park every day."

Mickles, who came to UL from an earlier stint at Southern, had pitched only two innings all season for the Cajuns (38-13, 21-6 Sun Belt). He got the opportunity for Sunday’s start after UL locked up the Sun Belt regular-season title Saturday with its runaway 28-3 win over the Trojans.

"He’s a guy who stayed the course and paid his dues," Robichaux said. "The greatest thing is that we put a guy on the mound that everybody was pulling for. We could have had a letdown after yesterday and with everything else that was going on, but with him there we weren’t going to have a letdown."

That was obvious when Mickles (1-0) left the game in the sixth with a 9-2 lead and was met by every Cajun player in front of the dugout.

"It’s hard to describe," Mickles said. "Coach talks about getting your chance, being patient and staying with your stuff. That’s what I was trying to do, throw the fastball and the change away, and they weren’t making adjustments to it."

Outfielder Jefferies Tatford, another senior making his final home appearance, provided the bulk of that early lead. Tatford doubled in a run and scored in a four-run first inning, doubled and scored in the third and hit a towering three-run homer to wrap up the Cajuns’ scoring in the fourth inning.

"That kind of culminates an unbelievable career here," said Tatford, who had four of the Cajuns’ 15-hit total. "Everything felt really comfortable. My dad gave me some words of encouragement before the game … he said to stay relaxed and have fun."

Tatford’s most fun came with two outs in the fourth, when he took a fast ball from UALR reliever Levi Laughlin and bounced it onto Cajun Track, with the ball eventually rolling to the stop in the middle of the track infield.

That made it 9-0 before the Trojans (20-29, 8-18) rallied on Robert Taylor’s single-handed offensive effort. Taylor and an RBI double in the fifth, a two-run single as part of a three-run sixth inning and an RBI double in the eighth that scored Brett Lawler to cut the margin to 9-5. Justin Robichaux came on to retire five of the six Trojans he faced to insure UL’s final 22-2 home record.

UL held extended pregame activities including early graduation ceremonies for five active players and three staff members expected to receive degrees next weekend, honoring the eight seniors in their final home games, and first pitches thrown out by 33 mothers of the Cajun players and staff members.

"It was a nice day," Robichaux said. "We played a lot of guys and all of them came out and responded."

UL laced five straight one-out hits – its longest consecutive-hit streak of the season – in scoring four first-inning runs off UALR starter Nathan Parker (3-4). Jonathan Lucroy, Tatford and Nolan Gisclair had RBI extra-base hits and Matt Casbon has the first of his two RBI singles for a 4-0 lead, and Casbon’s single highlighted a two-run third after Tatford’s second double.

One inning later, Josh Logan drew a walk and Devon Bourque singled before Tatford’s 10th homer of the season.

Brad Kemp/bkemp@theadvertiser.com

UL senior Kyle Mickles delivers a pitch against Arkansas-Little Rock Sunday at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.

Up next


The Cajuns head out on the road Tuesday when they travel to Thibodaux to take on Nicholls State in a 6:30 p.m. contest.