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Baseball: DH's eyesight okay after taking horrific pitch to face

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 3, 2018

On Friday night at Arkansas State, UL reserve outfielder Tremaine Spears – being used as a designated hitter this season – took a pitch to the face.

On Monday, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux – still seemingly disturbed by the extent of Spears’ injuries – suggested that the sophomore is done for the season.

“We’ll probably file for a medical hardship on him, because he’s got some broken bones in there,” said Robichaux, whose 12-15 Cajuns open a back-to-back non-conference set against No. 12 Southern Mississippi on Tuesday night in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

“He went through a lot that night. You know, getting hit in the face like that and seeing his teeth in the batter’s box is not a fun thing to do – and blood coming out your nose and mouth. But we’re so fortunate.

"He stayed in the emergency room for a very long time. Thank God he can see,” Robichaux added. “That was our No. 1 worry, that he’d be able to see.”

Related: Schmidt tosses complete game in Cajuns win over Arkansas State

A few other injury updates from Robichaux on Monday:

* Closer Logan Stoelke did not throw against Arkansas State, and the Cajuns won’t know about his availability at Southern Miss until after they get  there.

“He had a little tenderness in his shoulder, so … precautionary,” Robichaux said. “We just held him out for the weekend. We don’t think it’s anything serious. … We’ll know a little bit more about him over the next day or so.”

* Reliever Caleb Armstrong, who previously underwent Tommy John surgery, “came up with a sore elbow” during the one inning he pitched against the Red Wolves. Armstrong’s status was uncertain as of the time Robichaux spoke Monday.

* Catcher Handsome Monica still hasn’t played since getting hurt in UL’s season opener, and Robichaux – who earlier said Monica still was experiencing “looseness” in the injured knee – indicated nothing’s changed with him.

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

More: UL's McKinnon was ready when he heard 'Kole, you're in'

Robichaux’s biggest injury concern Monday, though, seemed to be the one involving Spears during a Sun Belt Conference series in which UL dropped 2-of-3.

The Tioga High product played sparingly as a true freshman in 2017, when he hit .167 with two RBI over 14 games. He also was hitting .167 this season, going 2-for-12 with a double over eight games including Friday’s loss.

Potential loss of eyesight for Spears really was a concern for Robichaux and the Cajuns in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

“When something like that happens, you know, teeth are fixable. Bones are fixable,” Robichaux said. “But eyesight’s very hard to fix, and you never know what you’re gonna get when they get there (to the hospital) and their face is down.

“You hear the noise of ‘it hit him,’ and the crack of something. The odds are that’s a bone that’s cracking, or the flap on the helmet  that broke; one of the two.

“We got there,” he added, “and you could tell there was gonna be some broken bones, and then two teeth were out.”

Related: Cajuns utility man Fontenot plays with 'no fear of failure'

Robichaux took time Monday to thank everyone who helped Spears, including Brian Davis, UL’s athletic trainer; Arkansas State’s athletic training and medical personnel; Mike Hill, a Cajuns fan who  according to the UL coach “put him in his car and … (got) him to the hospital;” doctors and medical staff in Jonesboro; and even the dentist there who did emergency work.

It was really a rough time for the Cajun DH.

“That’s guy’s face was on the other side of his face,” Robichaux said. “It was so swollen. He had broken bones in his cheek. … Then root canals at 4 in the morning.

“Then (he) had to sit through another nine-inning game the next day with your face thataway, and then get on a bus and ride nine-and-a-half hours on the way back with that – (it’s) just unbelievable.

“I’m just thankful for him,” Robichaux added, “that he did not lose any eyesight.”

Related: Cajuns drop series opener in extra innings to Arkansas State

More: Arkansas State runs away from Cajuns to claim series

UL (12-15) at No. 12 SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (19-7)

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday, 6 p.m. Wednesday

WHAT: Two-game non-conference set

WHERE: Pete Taylor Park; Hattiesburg, Mississippi

TV: None

RADIO: KPEL 1420 AM with Jay Walker and Jeff Schneider

STREAMING: RaginCajuns.com

UL PITCHERS: LHP Hogan Harris (1-1, 4.32) on Tuesday night, LHP Austin Perrin (1-4, 4.78) probable Wednesday night

UL LEADERS: OF Gavin Bourgeois (.305, eight doubles, eight steals), OF Daniel Lahare (.268), 2B Hunter Kasuls (.255, 19 RBI)

Related: UL's Harris, pen come up big in second win over LSU



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