Baseball: With Burk's forearm tight, Norman answers the call
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 19, 2017
The plan was not for UL starting pitcher Jack Burk to go just 2.0 innings Wednesday night.
But that’s what happened, and when it did freshman reliever Jacob Norman — a Carencro High product — answered the call and worked 4.2 shutout innings in a 9-2 win over Southeastern Louisiana on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said Burk “came up to us after the second and said his forearm was not loosening up.”
“So we decided to go ahead of shut him down, at all cost,” Robichaux said of Burk, UL’s usual weekend starter. “His strength was good. Didn’t feel any pop or anything.
“(But) it wasn’t loosening up, so we just didn't want to take a chance. … He’s a good freshman arm.
“So Jacob Norman gets a lot of credit,” the Cajun coach added. “He knew he was gonna try to help us bridge the gap to (fellow reliever) Wyatt (Marks), but he surely didn’t know that the gap was gonna be that wide. He came in and did a great job for us on short notice.”
Norman allowed four hits and walked two, but SLU couldn’t crack him before he left with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.
“I just tried to focus on keeping it in the zone, throwing it over the plate — like Coach Robe always says, ‘Attack every hitter, not try to do too much and just let it ride,’” said Norman, who got the Lions to bite on his slider while also having command of his fastball.
After Norman exited, Marks struck out the first man he faced in the seventh, second baseman Carson Crites, and walked to the dugout pounding his chest.
Marks did uncharacteristically walked in a man with the bases loaded in the eighth, ending a streak of 22 consecutive shutout innings by the Cajuns.
But the St. Thomas More product then struck out the next two batters he faced to avoid any additional damage in the inning.
Outfielder Ishmael Edwards led off the first for UL with a double, extending his hitting streak to 13 games in a row.
Edwards later scored on Joe Robbins’ sacrifice fly to centerfield, and Steven Sensley followed with a solo opposite-field home run to left to put the Cajuns up 2-0.
It was Sensley’s team-high fifth homer of the season.
Shortstop Brad Antchak singled in Hunter Kasuls in the second, making it 3-0 UL.
SLU stranded a man in the top of the third, and UL took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the inning after Todd Lott singled in Kennon Fontenot, who had reached earlier with his second double of the game.
It stayed that way through five.
But Antchak doubled in Alex Pinero with another UL run in the sixth, then scored himself on a pair of wild pitches.
The Cajuns tacked on a few insurance runs in the eighth, with Sensley, Fontenot and Lott driving in one each, and SLU picked up one more in the ninth before Marks finished it out.
Players of the game
Antchak was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI, and Sensley was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI as well.
What it means
UL improved 23-14-1 while winning its fifth straight, and avoided being swept by SLU in games this season.
UL opens a three-game Sun Belt Conference weekend series Friday night at Arkansas-Little Rock with Gunner Leger on the mound.
Edwards, playing in right lately, was back to starting in centerfield, and Sensley, who had been the designated hitter, was back in right as Zach LaFleur sat after going 0-for-3 at the plate Tuesday night at Tulane. … Lott was the DH and went 2-for-4 with two RBI. … With it being a five-game week, usual starting second baseman Brenn Conrad was rested Wednesday and Kasuls got the start instead at second.