Baseball: No. 1 Cajuns baseball completes series sweep – photo gallery included
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 14, 2014
Tony Robichaux and his UL baseball team embrace, and celebrate, the little things.
Some of the little ones, though, were really big Sunday as the No. 1-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns beat Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in front of 3,518 at M.L. "Tigue" Field to sweep a series for the sixth time in nine weekends this season.
Like starting pitcher Cody Boutte going 6.0 innings and allowing just one run despite admittedly not having his best stuff.
Like second baseman Jace Conrad the recent end of a hitting streak and going 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored.
Like maybe the biggest of them all, centerfielder Seth Harrison catching Petr Sila’s liner and doubling up Sam Vogel with a throw to first that Chase Compton managed to hold on to despite falling on his backside.
"That’s huge," Conrad said of the play. "I think a bunch of us owe Compton lunch. Compton picked up a few balls for us (Saturday night), and a few (Sunday), so we have to take care of him."
The Cajuns, though, mostly took care of themselves over the weekend.
"We played good, consistent baseball (in all three games of the series). That’s so important. When you do that you have a chance to win every night out," said coach Tony Robichaux, whose Cajuns improved to 34-4 overall and 14-1 in Sun Belt Conference play while sweeping their fourth of five SBC series this season.
"It was just a total team effort this weekend," he added. "We got the timely hitting. We did a lot of little things – bunting, squeezing. Played good defense. Got good pitching."
Boutte (5-0) gave up four hits, walked just one and struck out seven to join fellow starters Carson Baranik (8-0) and Ryan Wilson (5-0) with undefeated records.
"I felt like I was about 60 percent," said Boutte, who left after taking a shot up the middle off his hand. "For some reason I just didn’t think I had everything. But Coach (Robichaux) always tell us to use 100 percent of what you’ve got, so I just tried to command the ball real well."
Closer Reagan Bazar picked up his sixth save of the season after walking two and hitting one but allowing no hits and no runs in his 1.1 innings.
UL took a 1-0 lead when Conrad scored on Greg Davis’ two-out bloop single in the bottom of the second.
Dylan Butler’s double to left scored Blake Trahan and, later in the three-run third, Conrad’s two-out, two-run double made it 4-0 Cajuns.
UALR (13-20, 3-12) did pick up one run in the sixth inning off of Boutte and two in the eighth off Matt Hicks, but UL had single insurance runs in the sixth and seventh as Michael Strentz and Conrad both scored on fielder’s-choices in double-steal situations.
With UL protecting its 6-3 lead in the ninth, Bazar hit the first man he faced.
But Harrison initiated the double play, and after issuing a walk Bazar got Austin Pfeiffer to ground out to Trahan at short.
"I didn’t know whether to go out and get it or stay back," Compton said of the throw from Harrison. "It took a quick hop on me, and it was kind of bobbling between my glove, so that’s why I finally grabbed the ball and was ready to show it."
"That was a great play – a great play by Seth, and also Compton to be able to finish the play right there," Robichaux added. "That was a big momentum booster for us, (and) especially for Reagan (Bazar). He was a little bit out of the zone, but you have to give him credit as a freshman for continuing to battle out there."
UL hitters did the same, and now have 27 double-digit hit outings in 38 games this season.
"They want to just compete – and each day out gives them an opportunity to compete," Robichaux said of his Cajuns, who are off until visiting Texas-Arlington next weekend.
"We try not to celebrate the scoreboard whatsoever, and (instead) celebrate little things like getting down the line, hustling, playing hard, trying to come out the next day with energy when maybe the record might make them (opponents) believe that we might come out and lay down. And, you know, we’re just not gonna do it."
LAGNIAPPE: Conrad extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 28. … Caleb Adams’ consecutive-games-reaching streak ended at 31. … Harrison extended hitting streak to 13 games and his games-reaching streak to 24. … Despite bruising a knee when he ran into a brick wall Friday night, Butler played all three games in the series and wound up 6-for-8 with two doubles and three RBIs.