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Baseball: Guillory’s one-hit gem lifts UL past Northwestern State

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 5, 2016

UL sophomore righty Evan Guillory threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout Tuesday night, striking out seven and walking just one.

And after UL finished beating Southland Conference-member Northwestern State 4-0 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, the Ragin’ Cajuns’ starting pitcher did something he rarely does.

Evan Guillory, say hello to Nick Thurman.

“(Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robicheaux) asked me in the seventh inning how I felt, and I said, ‘I feel perfectly fine,’ ” Guillory said. “I don’t get too many chances to shake Thurman’s hand at the end of the game, so I was gonna take the opportunity when I got it.”

Thurman, UL’s senior catcher, nailed a double down the line in right to score Brenn Conrad from first base after he was waved home by Cajuns third-base coach Anthony Babineaux in the bottom of the second inning.

With Conrad taking care of things offensively — the second baseman was 3-for-3 at the plate, including a double and a two-RBI single in the sixth — Guillory cruised.

The Jennings High product struck out five of the last eight batters he faced, including Nick Heath to end it as UL opened the second half of its regular season by improving to 19-10.

“(Guillory) had all of his stuff working,” Robichaux said. “He pitched off of his fastball. He had location both in and out, and up and done, and back and forth.

“You know, a lot of people, when you see somebody throw a game like that, sometimes forget about the catcher.

“You’ve got to give Nick Thurman a lot of credit, too, in being able to call that game and being in such good rhythm with him for nine innings,” the Cajun coach added. “That’s not always easy to do. They both did an exceptional job.”

Guillory (2-3) retired the final 15 batters he faced, and just one Demon runner — David Fry, who walked and advanced on a sac bunt in the fifth — reached second base.

Northwestern State’s lone hit was Cort Brinson’s first-inning single to left, and Guillory promptly retired the next 10 hitters he faced.

The complete-game, one-hit shutout is UL’s first since April 9, 2010, when Zach Osborne had one against Troy. The Cajuns’ last complete-game shutout came in 2014 at Arkansas State, where Carson Baranik threw a two-hitter.

UL's Evan Guillory threw a one-hitter in Tuesday night's

UL’s Evan Guillory threw a one-hitter in Tuesday night’s 4-0 win Northwestern State Demons at The Tigue. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER)

“He’s always had that in him,” Conrad said of Guillory, a weekend starter last season who was making his home debut this season.

“I think his second-to-last pitch was 92 miles an hour, so he didn’t lose any velocity. His changeup was working, and whenever that’s working he’s very dangerous, because he has a very good slider, and whenever he has a three-pitch mix he’s pretty unhittable.”

Guillory benefitted from several early grounder as some solid, error-free defense helped too.

“It’s really important … when the defense can play behind me,” he said.

“Because I know (shortstop) Brad (Antchack) and Brenn (Conrad) made some spectacular plays in the first inning, and it makes me feel more comfortable throughout the game to be able to be able to throw my pitches with confidence.”

Conrad’s single to right gave Guillory a cushion by scoring Stefan Trosclair, who reached on an error, and Steven Sensley, who singled before Antchak’s groundout.

UL tackled on one more insurance run in the seventh, when Kennon Fontenot double to right, advanced on Jam Williams’ sac bunt and scored on Joe Robbins’ safety squeeze.

“I’ve got to give credit to Stefan Trosclair for hustling on a ball in the infield and Steven Sensley for getting that big hit, and Brad (Antchak) putting the ball in play and moving them over,” Conrad. “All I did was get a hit.”

All Guillory did was throw a gem.

He did it with an efficient 93 pitches, too — enough to convince Robichaux, who had relievers up in the bullpen, that he should finish.

“He dominated his opponent. He didn’t let me take him out of the game,” Robichaux said. “We wanted to throw one or two other arms, but I felt it was gonna punish (Guillory). The guy was at 70 pitches (after seven innings).”

“I felt more comfortable as the game went on. It took me a little while to get loose, actually,” Guillory added. “But once I got to, like, the fifth or sixth inning, I was able to settle down and throw my pitches with more confidence — because, again, the defense was making plays behind me.”