Baseball: Schmidt answers the call for UL in win over UTA
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 7, 2018
Cajuns lefty goes 8.0 innings in shutout win over UTA
After lots of looking, the Ragin’ Cajuns appear to have found their Friday night starter.
They knew it wasn’t going to be reigning Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Gunner Leger, who owned the job last season but is out this year following offseason arm and leg surgeries.
They started with sophomore Jack Burk early, then tried Nick Lee, too.
This time it was Colten Schmidt’s turn, and when it was the senior from LaPorte, Texas, answered the call.
Schmidt allowed just three hits over 8.0 scoreless innings, and Logan Stoelke closed as UL beat Texas-Arlington 2-0 in the first outing of their three-game Sun Belt series on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
“That’s why we moved Schmidty up to Friday,” coach Tony Robichaux said after his Cajuns won just their second weekend series-opening game this season. “You know, he can battle a Friday night arm.
“You’re not gonna get many runs on Friday night … but that’s what these Friday night arms are used to.
“They’re used to keeping their ERA at 2.00 or below,” Robichaux added, “so you know you’re gonna have a tough game on Friday night.”
Schmidt, who began the season as UL’s midweek starter, lowered his ERA to 1.26 while recording a career-high 10 strikeouts.
He went into the night at 1.47, which ranked 13th nationally — and it took all he had to improve his numbers, especially with the Cajuns not posting their first run until the fifth inning on UTA’s Brad Vassar.
“Schmidt pitched a heck of a game,” Stoelke said after his eighth save of the year.
“He pitched good under duress,” Robichaux added. “That’s what the good ones do. Gunner Leger’s like that; he’s gonna turn it up when you turn it up.”
Schmidt did hit two batters and issued one walk in the first two innings, but he put the Mavericks down in order in the fourth, seventh and eighth.
The lefty wound up retiring 18 of the last 20 batters he faced.
“He’s a back-and-forth guy, and a little early his changeup was a little up,” Robichaux said. “Then he started to get the changeup down, and once he (did) he was able to work the fastball back up.”
Schmidt (3-0) used just seven pitches in the eighth, but at that point he was at 107 pitches.
Considering that he also was moved up a day, and that the reigning SBC Player of the Week had thrown 119 pitches in a complete-game win at Arkansas State last weekend, the decision to turn to Stoelke for the ninth was easy for Robichaux.
“That really helped a lot,” Stoelke said of Schmidt’s low pitch count in the eighth.
“That helped me from having to go more than one inning, and … (now) I can probably come back (Saturday) or Sunday.”
UL broke through as Zach LaFleur walked, advanced to second on Tyler Stover’s sac bunt, went to third when Kole McKinnon hit into a fielder’s choice and scored on Jonathan Windham’s single.
The Cajuns added their insurance run in the eighth, when Kennon Fontenot reached on an error with the bases loaded to push Daniel Lahare across.
With runners on second and third in the ninth, UL closed things out as shortstop Hayden Cantrelle made a tough 6-3 putout.
“Great play by Cantrelle to end the game right there,” Robichaux said. “I mean, that’s a freshman.
“Groundball bounding to the left side; he’s got his momentum going away from first, and you know what kind of critical play that is.
“The game’s on the line right there, and yet he’s still able to make that play,” Robichaux added. “It just goes to show you how good he’s gonna be down the road.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Fontenot extended his hitting streak to 10 games and Lahare extended his to nine. … Cantrelle’s hitting streak of 13 straight games came to a close. … The shutout was UL’s second of the season, in addition to a 3-0 win over then-No. 12 Vanderbilt. … Attendance was generously announced at 4,713.
The Cajuns have added catcher Nick Hanks, a freshman from Notre Dame High, to the roster, filling their 35th and final spot.
McKinnon has caught every inning for UL since starting catcher Handsome Monica went down with a knee injury in the Cajuns’ season-opener at Texas.
IN THE MINORS
Ex-Cajun Blake Trahan was in the lineup Friday night at shortstop for the Louisville Bats, AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
The Bats’ loss to the Toledo Mud Hens was the first Triple-A game for Trahan, a third-round Reds draft choice in 2015.
UL and UTA’s middle outing of their three-game series is at 6 p.m. Saturday.
UL (14-16, 4-6) vs. TEXAS-ARLINGTON (14-14, 6-4)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
STREAMING: RaginCajuns.com with Dan McDonald
RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker and Brad Topham
PITCHING MATCHUP: UL RHP sophomore Jack Burk (2-4, 4.89 ERA) vs. UTA senior RHP Trae Patterson 92-1, 6.21)