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Baseball: Brandon Talley makes his workhorse role for Cajuns look easy

Kevin Foote, Acadiana Advocate, May 12, 2021

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Brandon Talley has been a workhorse reliever for the Cajuns this season.
Photo by Brad Kemp.

UL junior utility specialist Brandon Talley likes to keep things simple.

That approach works well for him, because what he does for the Ragin’ Cajuns isn’t as easy as he makes it seem.

On one hand, Talley is a reserve first baseman and pinch-hitting option for coach Matt Deggs.

Each day, he practices hitting and field with the position players.

But what he actually does most to contribute to the Cajuns’ cause is pitch in relief.

“I still do everything majority with the hitters,” Talley said. “I hit every day, take BP and ground balls. I never really lose a step other than just seeing live pitching.”

As diligent as he remains as a hitter despite only 17 at-bats on the season, Talley actually leads all UL pitchers with 22 appearances.

In Talley’s mind, it’s as simple as doing his job no matter what, how or when those assignments comes.

“Going into this, I just wanted to contribute to the team, the well being – just win games,” Talley said. “So any way I can help has always been how I want to go about things, whether it’s pitching or coming in to get a pinch hit.”

In those 22 outings, the 6-foot-2, 227-pounder from Princeton, Texas is 0-1 with six saves and a 1.61 ERA.

“We don’t have an MVP, but if we did, he’d be in the top three, I promise you,” Deggs said. “He’s logged some huge innings for us. He’s super reliable both on and off the field. He’s graduating with still has another year left. He can also swing the bat a little bit.

“I know his at-bats have been hard to come by and part of that is just that he’s so valuable on the mound. I’d say he’s in the top three for sure.”

In 28 innings, he’s allowed 17 hits, walked 13 and struck out 39.

Opponents are only hitting .172 against him on the season.

“He pounds that strike zone and he’s very deceptive,” Deggs added. “Any lefty that can pound the zone back to their glove is going to be super tough, because they’re going to pound righties inside and they’re going to just constantly stay away from lefties.

“Then he’s got the rare ability to come back inside on lefties and then finish them off with a really sharp slider and he’s always around the zone. Even if we have a silly walk, he bounces right back.”

To others, Talley seems to have a rubber arm. To Talley, it’s just answering the bell.

“I guess so,” Talley said. “I’ve really had arm issues – thank God. I just get in there and once that adrenalin gets going if there are any aches or anything like that, it’s all done by then.”

In his 22 outings, Talley has been incredibly consistent, only allowing a run in four games and only once more than one run.

“I don’t really think about it too much like that,” Talley said. “Each time, whatever the thing is – if I’m coming in there with people on or a fresh inning – just trying to do my job and get outs and if there’s anything to clean up, get in there and clean it up.”

In his mind, the many outings helps his efficiency when he does pitch.

“I knew I was going to be in the mix for sure and throwing a lot of innings,” Talley said. “It’s really just whatever’s asked just go in there and do to the best of my ability and try to help the team win. But yeah, I have thrown a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.

“I do think it definitely helps the more appearances you get. I’m more comfortable. As far as taxing my arm, luckily my arm’s been pretty good. I’ve been staying pretty healthy.”

Also helping Talley’s cause this season is leaning on pitch selection decisions from a seasoned senior catcher like Drake Osborn and pitching coach B.J. Ryan.

“It’s huge,” Talley said of Ryan’s influence. “All the experience that he’s had and just knowledge. There’s certain things … sometimes when I’m struggling, he says, ‘Hey, do this.’ And then the next pitch is right where I want it to be executed. It’s just little things, stuff that he’s been through a million times, that he can help us with.”

One aspect of his gig that does provide a little extra is actually being able to close out six games.

“Yes, I definitely love closing games,” he said. “There’s just something about coming in there and getting those last three outs. A lot of the time, those are the hardest outs to get.

“To do that, especially if it’s a close game, it’s a different feeling for sure.”


EMAIL KEVIN FOOTE AT KFOOTE@THEADVOCATE.COM.

Athletic Network footnote: Cajuns begin 3 game SBC series at UT-Arlington starting 6:30 Friday.