Baseball: UL's Harris, pen come up big in second win over LSU
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, March 27, 2018
METAIRIE — Making his first start in more than a month, Hogan Harris seemed to pick up where he left off.
He didn't go the whole way, but got a lot done in his short time on the mound. And it was huge for the Ragin' Cajuns, as was the effort of UL's bullpen behind Harris.
In front of an announced crowd of 8,732, UL’s junior lefty went 4.0 innings in the Cajuns’ 3-1 win over No. 19 LSU on Tuesday night in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic at The Shrine on Airline, home of the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes.
The start was Harris’ first since he sustained an oblique injury in UL’s 2018 season-opening series at Texas.
"That felt fantastic," Harris said afterward. "It's just amazing to be back, good to not be feeling anything when I was throwing. ... Just nice to be able to focus on pitching again."
Tuesday outing wasn’t his first back, though, as the St. Thomas More High product also worked 1.2 innings in relief back on March 18 at Georgia Southern.
This one went much better than that one.
Harris allowed just one run and five hits, striking out five while walking just one as he threw 65 pitches, all while working on a pitch count.
The Cajuns led 3-1 when Harris exited and was replaced by freshman Austin Perrin, who had been filling in a starter during much of Harris’ absence.
Brock Batty later replaced Perrin in the eighth with UL still up 3-1, but men on first and second and just one out. Batty promptly got a 4-6-3 double-play ball to escape the jam.
Logan Stoelke, who blew the save but got the win when the Cajuns beat LSU 4-3 in 10 innings earlier this season on M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field at Russo Park, came into to work the ninth for UL.
LSU put two on with one out, and men on second and third with two outs, but Stoelke got a groundout to Tyler Stove at first to end it as UL beat LSU for the second time in the same season, marking the first time since 2002 that the Cajuns have had multiple wins over the Tigers in the same year.
As of early Monday afternoon, Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux wasn’t certain if Harris would pitch at all against LSU.
Robichaux said then that it was possible Harris would start, possible he would come out of the bullpen and also possible he would not at all and instead wait for later in the week — all depending on how he felt after working on Monday.
He also suggested that if Harris, a pro prospect, did throw it probably would not be a full outing.
“I think the big thing we have to decide with Hogan is ‘Just where is he?’” Robichaux said Monday. “‘Pitch-count wise, where’s at he trying to build up his tolerance?’
“Because the biggest thing that people don’t realize is that when that guy got injured, he didn’t get injured after he had three 90-pitch starts. He got injured at the 40-pitch mark on Opening (Weekend).
“So when he went into resting it, there was no throwing, there was no running,” Robichaux added. “There was no nothing; so, we just have to be careful. We don’t want to put him at risk.”
Robichaux liked what he saw from Harris.
"I think the other (outing) led to this one, a little bit more dirt under his cleats," the Cajuns coach said after the win.
"Hogan got us off to a great start with that velocity. We were able to come back from behind him with two left-handed changeup guys, and then back to velocity with Stoekle. But we turned some key double plays (too). That was important."
UL took a 2-0 lead in the first as Kennon Fontenot doubled in Daniel Lahare, who reached with a leadoff single and advanced to second when Gavin Bourgeois was hit by a pitch, and Bourgeois later scored on a wild pitch.
Fontenot had a chance to score himself later in the half-inning, but he was thrown out 4-2 when Monroe Moll into a fielder’s choice.
Bourgeois scored again in the third, when he led off with a double and later came across as Fontenot hit into a fielder’s choice.
With a man on third, Harris got out of the third by striking out Beau Jordan and UL went to the fourth up 3-0.
Harris got some help in the fourth, when the Cajuns threw out LSU’s Austin Bain 9-4-2 trying to score from first on Nick Coomes’ double, but the Tigers got their first when Coomes later scored on Harris’ throwing error.
It stayed 3-1 Cajuns the rest of the way.
More: Live coverage
UL opens a three-game Sun Belt Conference series Thursday night at Arkansas State, part of a stretch with six in a row on the road for the Cajuns.