Baseball: UNO knocks off No. 1 UL, 8-7
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 9, 2014
UL third baseman Tyler Girouard (9) swings at a UNO pitch during an NCAA baseball game at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, LA, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Paul Kieu, The Advertiser(Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)
First came the rain, then some pretty strong winds.
But the real storm Tuesday night was brought on by the University of New Orleans, and UL – ranked No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball – had trouble withstanding all the Privateers poured down on it.
Southland Conference-member UNO held on to beat the Ragin’ Cajuns 8-7 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, ending UL’s six-game win streak while handing the 30-4 Cajuns their first midweek loss of the season and their first loss in 12 games this year against in-state opponents.
“Give these guys (the Privateers) credit,” UL coach Tony Robichaux said. “They got a couple big hits in critical situations, and we (Cajun pitchers) got our hitters behind early.”
UL went into the ninth down 8-6, and made one up when Caleb Adams scored from third on Chase Compton’s one-out groundout.
That brought Michael Strentz to the plate with Jace Conrad at third and two out, but UNO reliever Darron McKigney got the Cajun catcher to ground out to shortstop Samuel Capielano, sealing things for the 10-20 Privateers.
“We had some chances at the end right there to get it done,” Robichaux said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Starter and usual reliever Matt Hicks didn’t give up a run in his pre-planned three innings, and UL led early after a solo home run to centerfield to lead off the second inning by left fielder Adams, who finished 4-for-4 with a double as well.
Adams is now hitting a team-hit .402 on the season.
Rain in the third chased off many of 4,158 at The Tigue, and didn’t do much to help the Cajuns as New Orleans came up with five runs in the top of the fourth.
Reliever Ben Carter faced four batters and didn’t retire any of them before being relieved by Matt Plitt, who was on the hook for one himself.
“Ben Carter’s better than what he showed right there,” Robichaux said. “I mean, you can’t let the game get away from us.
“He had it pouring down rain and stuff, but you can’t make excuses. The bottom line is they’re under the same conditions we are, and you’ve got to make those pitches.”
UL did respond in the bottom of the fourth as Dylan Butler tripled off the left-field wall to score Conrad from second, Compton got hit and shortstop Blake Trahan delivered a three-run homer to left to make it 5-5.
“I’m proud of the way they fought back after we got ’em behind (pitching-wise) early,” Robichaux said.
The Cajuns, however, stranded Ryan Leonards at third later in the fourth and stranded Adams at third in the fifth.
UNO broke the tie with three in the seventh, when an RBI-single to shallow right by Reese Kanter (4-for-5, two runs scored) off of Nick Zaunbrecher (0-1) scored Capielano from second and Butler just missed chasing down Jonathan Coco’s two-run triple.
UL got one back when Conrad singled in pinch-runner Kyle Clement in the bottom of the seventh, but that and Compton’s RBI in the ninth was all the scoring the Cajun offense could manage over the game’s final five innings.
UL did have the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but Seth Harrison struck out and Clement grounded out.
“We can’t strike out right there,” Robichaux said, “and we did.”
The Cajuns move on to a visit tonight with Southland-leader McNeese State, part of a five-game week.
“You can’t pick and choose the games you lose in your season, but you can pick and choose how you respond,” Robichaux said. “So, that’s our No. 1 goal, is to respond … and get back after it.”
LAGNIAPPE: Robichaux said designated hitter Tyler Girouard will be “seriously sore” after taking a pitch off the kneecap, but he doesn’t think the injury will be any worse than that. … Tuesday marked the first time this season UL has outhit an opponent (13-12) but lost. … Cajun streaks extended Tuesday: Adams went to 28 straight games reaching base with a 10-game hit streak; Conrad went to 24 games reaching with an 18-game hit streak; and Harrison went to 20 reached with a nine-game hit streak.