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Baseball: The graduate – Cajun Carter atones at South Alabama

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 15, 2016



Eric Carter, shown here against TCU earlier this season, got the save Sunday at South Alabama.(Photo: Chris Daigle/Special to the Advertiser)


MOBILE, Ala. – What started as a great day Friday for UL relief pitcher Eric Carter did not end well.

After shaking what happened then, though, Carter made up for it Sunday by helping the No. 21 Ragin’ Cajuns to a 6-3 win over Sun Belt Conference-leader South Alabama along with a 2-1 series win over the No. 23 Jaguars.

Protecting UL’s three-run lead against a club quite capable of coming back, Carter came out of the bullpen and entering in the ninth with one thing in mind.

“I just wanted to go out there and secure a win for my team,” he said.

When Carter tried to do just that Friday, things did not turn out like he wanted.

The day started out perfectly, with Carter – who earlier in the week was named Outstanding Graduate for University College, a prestigious honor for the general studies major with a 3.83 grade-point average – being presented with his bachelor’s degree.

The President’s List and Dean’s List member traveled with relatives from Lafayette to Mobile by private vehicle after graduating, and did not get to Friday night’s game between the Cajuns and the Jaguars at Stanky Field here until the second inning.

So far, so good.

Travis Swaggerty’s RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth off of Carter spoiled things, however, giving the Jaguars a 3-2 win in the series opener.

What did Carter do?

“You can’t control the past,” he said, “so I just flushed that and moved on.

“After the game, I was pretty frustrated with myself. I knew where my mistakes were, so I went and I ran on the treadmill, worked out, got some of my frustration out, and then just kind of kept telling myself, ‘The past is the past,’ and I moved on.”

When he was called on in the ninth inning Sunday, — frequently the set-up man for closer Dylan Moore this season – had a clear head.

“As I came in,” he said, “I just really wanted to establish myself – strike one, tried to get ahead on every single guy and not allow myself to try to pitch with bad counts.

“That was first goal,” Carter added, “then I just tried to clear my mind and attack (catcher Nick) Thurman’s glove.”

Carter worked off his fastball, then mixed in his secondary cutter with an occasional curveball to strike out the side in order – finishing what Evan Guillory, Hogan Harris and Jevin Huval started for his third save of the season.

Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux could not have been prouder. Nor less surprised.

“He’s got good stuff,” Robichaux said. “Really good stuff.

“And it’s always good to get a guy back out that blew a save or had a tough inning, to where he can come back out and feel confident about himself. But that’s what a senior should do.”