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Baseball: UL takes two from ULM, keeps top-seed hopes alive

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 20, 2016



Brenn Conrad slides home as the Cajuns beat ULM 8-2 Friday in the resumption of a game suspended by lightning Thursday.(Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)


PHOTO GALLERY:  Cajuns Baseball vs. ULM Photos (Thursday)

VIDEO: Storm washes out UL vs. UL Monroe baseball game

PHOTO GALLERY:  Cajuns vs. ULM Friday Photos


UL won a pair Friday, keeping alive its hopes for sharing the Sun Belt Conference championship with league-leader South Alabama and for claiming the No. 1 seed for next week’s SBC Tournament.

The No. 19 Ragin’ Cajuns first beat UL Monroe 8-2 in the resumption of a game that was suspended Thursday night, then used Stefan Trosclair’s RBI-double in the 11th inning to win the nightcap, 6-5.

“They stayed calm and grinded all the way through this,” coach Tony Robichaux said of his 36-19 Cajuns, who can take the conference co-title and the top tourney seed if it beats UL Monroe in Saturday afternoon’s regular-season finale and South Alabama, which lost at Troy on Friday night, loses again to the Trojans on Saturday.

“So many people were involved in this, from Thur (catcher Nick Thurman) catching the first game and then having to catch extras. Then the hitters did a great job in Game 1 for us. It gave us momentum to Game 2.”

ULM, which has lost 18 straight to UL now, had been eliminated from Sun Belt tourney contention late in Friday’s late game.

Jevin Huval (2-1) got the Game 2 win in relief for UL after succeeding Hogan Harris, Will Bacon and Dylan Moore for the final 2.0 innings.

Trosclair’s game-winning hit in Game 2 came with one out, scoring Hunter Kasuls after Kasuls and Kyle Clement both walked.

“Before the day we went out there — it was (hitting) Coach (Jeremy) Talbot — and we worked on some things, and it helped me a lot, and it gave me some confidence,” said Trosclair, who also had two triples in Game 2.

“Trying to stay inside the ball helped me more today,” he added, “and I felt good at the plate.”

Lee loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first, then got out of the mess with three straight outs, including strikeouts of the last two batters he faced.

Kasuls led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run, marking the freshman’s first career homer as a Cajun. Josh Faciane answered with a solo homer in the second.

After ULM went up with a run scored on a wild pitch, UL’s Kennon Fontonot tripled and did the same to make it 2-2 in the bottom of the second.

ULM went up 3-2 on Cade Stone’s RBI-double to left in the fourth, and 4-2 on Anthony Herrera’s sacrifice fly later in the same inning.

Trosclair responded with a triple in the fifth that scored Joe Robbins, then scored himself on ULM’s Sun Belt-worst 76th wild pitch of the season to make it 4-4.

Fontenot, however, was thrown out 2-6 trying to steal to end the inning.

Brenn Conrad drove in Joe Robbins from second with two out in the seventh — Robbins slid under the throw to score, but Jacob Stockton tied it back up for the Warhawks by doubling in a run.

After two Warhawks — hitter Nathan Reynolds, and catcher Dalton Todd — were ejected for arguing balls and strikes later in the eighth, and a scoreless ninth, the two teams went to extra innings at 5-5.

“The biggest thing that hurt us was (starting pitcher) Nick just couldn’t find it today,” Robichaux added. “But everybody else kind of bridged the gap along the way, and made some big plays and big pitches along the way, then finally got the big lick there at the end.”

Game 1 of UL’s series with ULM was suspended Thursday night due to lightning and a storm that subsequently brought heavy rain and strong winds to The Tigue.

Stefan Trosclair, who delivered Friday's Game 2 winnerBuy Photo

Stefan Trosclair, who delivered Friday’s Game 2 winner in the 11th inning, works at the plate in UL’s 8-2 Game 1 win earlier in the day. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)

Twenty hours and 46 minutes later, with ULM up 1-0, two outs in the top of the fifth with men on first and second, play resumed Friday afternoon.

Eric Carter quickly got ULM out of the jam by getting Stockton to ground out to short.

Conrad broke up the Warhawks’ carryover no-hitter with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, then tied the game by scoring from first on Steven Sensley’s double to the wall in centerfield.

Fontenot followed with a single that scored Sensley, and UL led 2-1 after five complete.

Conrad drove in two runs in the sixth, scoring Robbins (hit by pitch) and Clement (walk) after ripping a two-out double to right-center.

Before the sixth was done, Sensley crushed a two-run double to right that also scored Conrad. Thurman then doubled in Fontenot to put the Cajuns up 7-1.

Thurman walked, advanced on Alex Pinero’s double to the wall and scored on a passed ball to make it 8-1 in the eighth.

ULM did get one run in the eighth inning.

But with Carter retiring 11 straight from the time Friday’s resumed game began and before he gave up his first of two hits allowed, the Cajuns cruised, ending things with a 5-4-3 double play.

LAGNIAPPE: UL Monroe’s streak of games with a different batting order/lineup ended Friday at 53; the Warhawks used same order and lineup in a game earlier this season against Mississippi State. … The Cajuns will hold special ceremonies for their seniors and graduates before Saturday’s game. … UL is now 4-1 in extra-innings games this season and ULM is 1-4.

   No. 19 UL (36-19, 20-9 in the Sun Belt) vs. UL MONROE (20-34, 10-19)

   WHAT: Last game of final three-game Sun Belt Conference regular-season series

   WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field (3,755)

   WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday

   RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker

   TV: None

   PITCHING MATCHUP: UL RHP Evan Guillory (4-5, 3.46 ERA) vs. TBA