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Baseball: Moody handcuffs Indians

Early offense plenty to support UL southpaw ace.

Dan McDonald

A 4-0 lead with Hunter Moody on the mound is usually a pretty good bet for the University of Louisiana baseball squad.
But on this night, the Ragin’ Cajuns weren’t taking anything for granted. That’s why the UL hitters had a pregame meeting with assistant coach John Szefc.

“He told us we needed to re-examine where we were and where we were going,” said senior outfielder Josh Landry. “It made us come out more focused.”

For Landry, that focus manifested itself in a bases-clearing triple in the fifth inning, the key inning in the Cajuns’ 10-1 Sun Belt Conference victory over Arkansas State Friday at Moore Field.
Landry’s shot into the left-center field gap followed three walks given up by ASU reliever T. J. Brewer and turned a 4-0 game into a seven-run difference.

“We’d had a situation where we had the bases loaded earlier,” said Cajun coach Tony Robichaux. “When you have that situation you have to clean it.”

Those three runs were the first half of a six-run inning that assured UL (13-11, 2-2) of evening its Sun Belt record, especially with the way Moody was performing on the mound.

The sophomore lefthander recorded his second complete game of the year, throwing 79 of his 111 pitches for strikes and giving up only two singles through the first six innings. ASU cracked the shutout on Michael Williams’ two-out homer in the eighth inning – the first homer Moody (4-2) had allowed all season.

“I was really mad at that one,” said Moody. “He just got out front of a change and pulled it out.”

That was Moody’s only major mistake in a series of off-speed pitches he lobbed at the Indians (13-13, 1-3). He only had three strikeouts but also had a streak of 10 straight retired batters at one point.

“I probably threw 75 percent change-ups tonight,” Moody said. “I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff, but (catcher Jonathan) Lucroy said the scout report had them with a lot of spin hitters. I was trying to keep them off balance.”

“That’s what he does,” Robichaux said of Moody. “He locates early and he keeps the ball in the ball park. The defense likes it because he doesn’t walk hitters.”

“He throws strikes, and he pitches away,” said ASU coach Keith Kessinger. “We had a few good swings but we hit it right to them. He’s going to keep them in games. I wish some of our guys would do that. We couldn’t throw it over the plate.”

UL got to ASU starter Joel Boeschen (2-3) in the second inning, with Jefferies Tatford’s 10-pitch at-bat resulting in a one-out single. Landry, Devon Bourque and John McCarthy followed with consecutive singles that built the 3-0 lead.

Tatford also had an RBI single after a Scott Hawkins single in the third, and two innings later Landry delivered his third triple of the year after the three walks.

“We’ve been trying to put things together offensively,” said Landry, one of four Cajuns with two hits Friday. “We had a different mindset tonight. It was kind of a get-after-it night. It’s always a big momentum thing to get a big knock.”

The teams play the middle game of their league series at 2:05 p.m. today at Moore Field, with UL sophomore right-hander Buddy Glass (3-1) against ASU junior right-hander Nathan Gates (1-2).

Originally published April 1, 2006