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Baseball: Solich, Harmon handle Lamar

UL scores tough 3-1 win in Beaumont

With UL’s baseball team playing its eighth road game in nine outings, and having arrived back from a trip to Arizona less than 24 hours earlier, Ragin’ Cajun coach Tony Robichaux needed a short game and needed his pitchers to throw strikes Tuesday evening.

He got both from Brent Solich and Gregory Harmon, and because of that the Cajuns got a rare victory in Beaumont, Texas.

Solich scattered five hits and didn’t allow an earned run through seven innings, and Harmon shut the door on Lamar’s Cardinals over the final two frames as UL grabbed a 3-1 victory to snap a three-game loss streak.

The win also broke a three-game losing streak for the Cajuns (30-12) at Lamar’s Vincent-Beck Stadium, and gave UL a sweep of the Cardinals (27-17) this season.

"This has been a tough place for us to win," Robichaux said, "and with the wind blowing in tonight we figured it was going to be close. We needed strike throwers, and Solich and Harmon did that."

The two combined for eight strikeouts and didn’t walk any, and their performance was magnified when the Cajuns took advantage of a rare wild pitch on an intentional walk for an insurance run in the eighth inning.

Solich (4-0) pitched his way out of a couple of jams, and the only Lamar tally came in the fifth inning when Cardinal infielders Brian Lloyd and Erik Kanaby reached on errors by UL infielders William Long and Matt Hicks. With two outs, Solich hit both Ryan Baker and Collin DeLome to force in Lloyd with the game’s first run.

In all, Solich plunked five Cardinal batters.

"The one thing he did was charge them," Robichaux said of Solich. "He tried to elevate with the fast ball and hit some guys. But in this park, it’s tough to score from first base on much of anything."

That’s what the Cajuns did moments later, though, when Long was hit by LU starter Justin Walker (0-3) to lead off the sixth inning. Hicks followed one out later with a double just past the reach of Cardinal left fielder Cody Morrison, and Long came around to score the tying run.

Jefferies Tatford followed with a single to right-center to score Hicks and give Solich all the advantage he would need.

It stayed 2-1 until the top of the eighth when Long had a leadoff single off reliever Matt Morgal and Devon Bourque reached on an error. Long was thrown out at third on Hicks’ attempted sacrifice, but Tatford moved the runners up with a ground ball. With two outs and first base open, the Cardinals chose to intentionally walk Jonathan Lucroy.

That backfired when Morgal’s first pitch sailed to the backstop and Bourque raced home to make it a two-run game.

Solich threw less than 80 pitches through seven innings but hit Michael Ambort to open the eighth, and Harmon gave up a no-out single to Jeff Vickers before a strikeout and the Cajuns’ second double play of the game ended that threat. Harmon then fanned two in the ninth and coaxed a ground ball from Ryan Baker to lock up his second save of the year.

Harmon had thrown five and one-third innings of one-hit ball against the Cardinals in UL’s comeback 5-4 win in Lafayette three weeks ago.

"We had him first up because we knew these guys hadn’t had good swings on him last time," Robichaux said. "He came in and did a job for us."

The Cajuns return home to Moore Field and return to Sun Belt Conference play at 6:30 p.m. Friday when they open a three-game weekend series against Arkansas State. UL enters the weekend with a one-game lead in the Sun Belt standings.

"It’s a big weekend for us," Robichaux said, "but we’ve finally got a couple of days to rest up and get some work in and get ready for the weekend."