Baseball: Charpentier shows signs late – No Rematch – Future First-Rounder – Counting on Harrison
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 29, 2014
He’s pitched only 13.1 innings in seven appearances this year, and has a 6.08 ERA.
But after going 2.0 scoreless, hitting innings in UL’s 6-5, 14-inning, regular season-ending win over UL Monroe, freshman reliever Chris Charpentier picked up something ever pitcher craves.
He wasn’t alone on a day UL used six arms out of the bullpen.
"The main thing with a pitcher … is everybody at this level has good stuff. It’s just the confidence that comes along with it (that makes a difference)," said Charpentier, a Berwick High product.
"Earlier in the season, toward the middle, everybody was kind of struggling in the pen," he added. "But now everything is starting to come together at the right time."
Charpentier parlayed his experience against ULM into 5.0 key relief innings in the beard-wearing Cajuns’ 6-5 Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game win over Texas-Arlington last summer.
He hopes to carry it as well into this weekend’s NCAA Lafayette Regional, which for 53-7 UL – ranked No. 1 in the nation – opens 6 p.m. tonight vs. Jackson State at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.
Doing so could be critical for the Cajuns, especially considering that Charpentier – who looks straight out of junior high – didn’t even play last year.
Before enrolling in college, the 5-foot-9, 169-pound righty sat out the entire season while rehabbing from post-high school Tommy John surgery.
"We’re very fortunate," Robichaux said. "He pitches a lot bigger than he is.
"So he’s older than you think he is. … He doesn’t have a beard," the Cajun coach added, "but he’ll get one eventually."
Jackson State initially indicated it would start Desmond Russell tonight, which would have meant a pitching rematch – Russell vs. UL’s Austin Robichaux – of last year’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional game that the Cajuns won 15-1.
Instead, the Tigers announced Thursday night they’ll go with lefty Vincent Athonia (3-0, 3.41 ERA in 11 appearances including four starts).
Robichaux allowed just the one run through 8.0 innings against Jackson State last year, and Matt Plitt closed with a scoreless ninth inning.
Tony Robichaux decided to throw his son, rather than pitch backward, partly because he didn’t think lefty No. 3 starter Cody Boutte would match up as well with mostly right-handed hitting Jackson State.
"I think it was an easy call," the Cajuns coach said. "I mean, we’re 53-7 off doing the things we’ve been doing, No. 1 in the country off doing what we’ve been doing. So we feel Austin sets the tempo for us for the weekend, and that’s what we need to set."
Tony Robichaux had said on his radio show earlier this week that he’d stick with his normal weekend pitching.
But on Thursday he said he’ll wait to see who the Cajuns will be playing Saturday before deciding whether Boutte or usual No. 2 Carson Baranik will go in Game 2, and that he will make the determination based on "best matchup."
In its Lafayette Regional preview, Baseball America calls UL sophomore shortstop Blake Trahan "a potential 2015 first-round pick."
Trahan was named Most Outstanding Player at last week’s Sun Belt Tournament, and will play this summer at home and abroad for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.
After going 7-for-12 with four extra-base hits and five RBI including the title-winning home run at the SBC tourney, he’s hitting .339 this season.
COUNTING ON HARRISON
After he retired UT Arlington’s final two batters on fly balls in last Sunday’s SBC title game, Tony Robichaux had high hopes for just how much usual starting centerfielder/sometimes closer Seth Harrison can help the Cajuns as postseason play continues.
"He got two really good hitters out," Robichaux said of UTA’s Ryan Bottger and Matt Shorthall.
"When you’ve got to try to take somebody’s 3- and 4-hole down with the wind blowing out, down in the count, you better have good stuff," Robichaux added. "What good stuff does is it stays in the yard. It might get hit deep, but it doesn’t run out."
Harrison has two saves and a 2.46 ERA this season.
But he’s pitched only 3.2 innings over four outings because rehab from offseason Tommy John surgery prevented him from throwing in games until the final few weeks of the regular season.
Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt picks UL to win the Lafayette Regional and advance to the College World Series. … Mississippi State was ranked 17th in Baseball America’s final regular-season national poll. The Lafayette Regional’s other two teams, Jackson State and San Diego State, are not ranked by Baseball America. … Rather than hold a mandatorily open-to-the-public practice Thursday at The Tigue, Mississippi State opted to practice to practice at home in Starkville instead and travel to Lafayette afterward.