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Baseball: Robichaux - Cajuns 'not a team that can get in a firefight'- Rep. Steve Scalise 1st pitch

Tim Buckley,The Advertiser, Feb. 23, 2018

Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.
Click here for the game photo gallery, including  U.S. House of Representative Majority Whip Steve Scalise throwing out the first pitch for the newly completed Russo Park.  

UL coach Tony Robichaux knew it would take some time for Ragin’ Cajuns bats to catch with their pitching and fielding.

After losing 8-2 Friday night to Wright State in their 2018 home opener on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park, Robichaux held out hope that it will happen sooner rather than later — and suggested not many mistakes can be made on the mound while they’re waiting.

“The one good thing is I thought we hit the ball hard tonight,” Robichaux said after the 1-3 Cajuns were limited to just four hits including three over 7.0 innings by Raiders starter Ryan Weiss, who struck out six and walked just one. “We drove some balls, and so I think it looks like they’re loosening up a little bit better.

“We’re getting the barrel above the ball,” added Robichaux, whose Cajuns went into the night hitting just .131 as a team. “Not a lot of lazy fly balls tonight. … But we can’t stray from pitching. You know, they jumped us in the first inning.”

UL starter Jack Burk (0-2) retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.

More: Without Gunner Leger, Cajun pitchers seek to 'pick up the slack'

Burk put the side down in order in four of the seven innings he worked, and had a four-batter sixth in which the only walk of the night he issued broke up a streak of 10 in a row retired.

But an opening inning in which Wright State scored five cost him big-time, and it didn’t help that the Raiders scored three off of Cajun relievers Grant Cox and Brett Williams in the eighth.

“When we bring in the bullpen late — I know it’s going to be inexperience, but — the bottom line is we’ve got to keep the score down, because we’re not a team that can get in a firefight,” Robichaux said.

“I told them at the beginning of the season with this schedule … with (injured and out-for-the-season starting pitcher) Gunner (Leger) out on Friday night, ‘This ain’t gonna be pretty. You’re gonna get cut up and beat up, because you’re can’t hide behind a 1.0 ERA anymore now.’”

Related: Cajuns ace Leger explains decision to sit out the season

WHAT HAPPENED

A one-out, two-on throwing error by UL third baseman O’Neal Lochridge gave Wright State a 1-0 lead.

Gabe Snyder followed with a two-run triple that put the Raiders up 3-0 in the first, and Zach Weatherford hit into a fielder’s choice to make it 4-0 later in the half-inning.

After Weiss fanned four of the first six Cajuns he faced, Seth Gray doubled in a run in the top of the third to put Wright State ahead 5-0.

UL got two back in the bottom of the third, as Kennon Fontenot scored when Gavin Bourgeois hit into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice and Kole McKinnon came across on Hayden Cantrelle’s sacrifice fly.

But with Wright State tacking on three more in the eighth, and Jeremy Randolph throwing two scoreless innings in relief of Weiss, that was that for UL.

More: UL's Robichaux says Cantrelle 'plays the game slow'

INJURY REPORT

Robichaux said after Friday’s game that catcher Handsome Monica, injured in UL’s season-opening loss at Texas, is out 4 to 6 weeks “easy” with a Grade 2 knee sprain.

The Cajuns previously were calling Monica “day-to-day.”

Usual Sunday starting pitcher Hogan Harris is “out” this weekend, Robichaux also said.

Harris sustained an oblique injury last Sunday at Texas, and the Cajuns still are calling their starter for Sunday “TBA.”

Burk, Robichaux added, got hit on the elbow on a 1-5-3 out — the last pitch of the game he threw Friday.

“It’s swollen a little bit, but we’ll look at him over the next day or so,” the Cajuns coach said. “But right now everything seems to be ‘it’s going to be OK.’ But he’ll be pretty sore.”

More: With Monica hurt, UL coach likes how McKinnon looked

ATTENDANCE COUNT

Friday’s attendance was announced at 5,196.

That’s well above seating capacity of 4,850 at the newly renovated Tigue, so standing-room-only numbers were included.

That’s also the sixth-largest crowd in stadium history, and it was — get this — exactly one more than was announced for the Cajuns’ opener at then-No. 14 Texas.

UP NEXT

UL plays Wright State at 2 p.m. Saturday in the middle outing of the three-game series.

More: The Tigue ready for '18 opener, but the Cajuns want more

No. 20 UL (1-4) vs. WRIGHT STATE (1-3)

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park

TV: None

RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Scott Prather

PITCHING MATCHUP: UL’s Nick Lee (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Zane Collins (0-0, 3.60)



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