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Baseball: Van De Keere ignites Cajuns’ offense again

Dan McDonald
dmcdonald@theadvertiser.com

Devery Van De Keere kept his hot streak going Friday night, and may have given the University of Louisiana baseball team one of his biggest hits of the season.
His leadoff homer in the sixth pulled the Ragin’ Cajuns within one run, and UL’s bats exploded for 10 hits and 13 runs over its final three offensive innings. That uprising turned a close game into what eventually became a 15-7 victory over Troy’s Trojans.

“That home run was just big,” said Cajun catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who had a pair of hits and scored three times in those final three innings. “It was the turning point. It’s amazing how a game can just turn on you like that. One guy gets a big hit, you get some flares to drop and get some walks, and all of a sudden you score five.”

Van De Keere’s homer provided only one of those 13 late runs, but it came when the Cajuns were trailing 4-2 and weren’t having much success against unbeaten Troy starter Clegg Snipes.
“It got us back in the game,” said Cajun coach Tony Robichaux. “That’s what home runs do. After that, we didn’t swing at a lot of bad pitches, we got bunts down and moved runners. A lot of little things added up to big things.”

Van De Keere continued his torrid hitting with his 2-for-5 night. He finished the month of April with a .470 batting mark (31-of-66) and is now 35-of-77 (.455) since April 1.

“It was just total reaction,” Van De Keere said of his seventh homer of the year. “It was a change down the middle, but I’m not really looking for any particular pitch right now.”

The Cajuns had only four hits off Snipes at the time, and finished with 14.

“Lafayette swung it well,” said Troy coach Bobby Pierce. “They battled back. Our bullpen had been going good, but tonight they got behind in counts and their hitters took advantage.”

CROWD FAVORITES: Several members of the UL squad credited Friday night’s Moore Field crowd for its part in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ rally to a 15-5 victory over Troy in the opening game of their pivotal Sun Belt Conference series.
“It was huge to win at home with this crowd,” said Van De Keere. “There were so many people here tonight and they were loud. It’s not pressure, but you want to do something to satisfy them.”

The Cajuns did that in the late innings, blowing open a tight contest and claiming a share of the Sun Belt lead with the win.

“This was one of our biggest crowds of the year,” said Cajun coach Tony Robichaux, “and you could tell our guys fed off that.”

Friday’s crowd was first announced at 2,258, which would have been only the seventh-largest home attendance of the season. The number was later revised to 2,558, which ranks behind two Saturday crowds against Iowa (2,568 on March 4) and Arkansas State (2,581 on April 1).

UL’s total home attendance entering today’s game is 49,163 in 24 dates, an average of 2,048 per game.

LAGNIAPPE: Troy shortstop Tom King, the nation’s eighth-ranked hitter (.435) entering the game, singled to lead off the ninth inning. It was his 91st hit of the year, snapping Troy’s school record he shared with Adam Godwin entering the series … The five runs allowed by Cajun starter Hunter Moody was his second-highest total of the year behind the eight allowed (six earned) at South Alabama on March 24. Even with that, his ERA is still at 1.85 for the season … Sophomore righthander Buddy Glass (6-1, 1.69) is scheduled to start for UL today opposite Troy junior lefthander Joe Hallahan (4-3, 4.53).

Originally published May 6, 2006