Baseball: McKinnon's hit, Schmidt's arm help UL beat Little Rock + Photo Gallery
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 21, 2018
Click here for Photo Gallery of the UL vs. UALR game.
As Tony Robichaux sees it, Game 1 of UL’s three-game Sun Belt Conference series with Little Rock went just like it should.
Both Friday-night starters, UL lefty Colten Schmidt and Little Rock lefty Chandler Fidel, went 8.0 innings.
Both teams allowed just three hits.
Both were in it until the end.
The big difference?
“We just got a timely hit and they didn’t,” Robichaux said.
Kole McKinnon’s RBI-double in the second inning scored Jonathan Windham and held up the rest of the way, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a 1-0 win over the Trojans on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Schmidt, a senior, allowed only two hits and faced just three batters over the minimum in his 8.0s innings of work.
He struck out six and walked only one while going at least 8.0 innings for a fourth straight game.
“He’s been solid for us,” said McKinnon, the Cajuns’ catcher. “I really appreciate what he does for this team.
“He comes out every day … wanting to compete, and that’s what he does.
“We know every time he goes out there he’s going to give it to them, he’s going to give everything he’s got,” McKinnon added. “And us hitters, we just have to make sure we back him up and make sure we take care of him, because he’s always making sure he’s taking care of us.”
McKinnon did his part, especially early on.
“It’s very satisfying,” he said of coming through Friday, “because defensively when Colten’s throwing I know what he’s capable of, and if he (does it) it’s going to be a tough day for the opponent.”
UL's Colten Schmidt went 8.0 innings to get the win in a 1-0 victory over Little Rock on Friday night. (Photo: James Mays/Special to the Advertiser)
Backing up Schmidt late was junior righty Nick Lee, who recorded his third save in three straight save situations this season.
For Lee, who began the season as a weekend starter, Friday amounted to just another night of taking care of business out of the bullpen.
The fact he was asked to protect a one-run lead after Schmidt went eight meant no extra pressure, he suggested.
“It’s not much more adrenaline, to be honest,” Lee said.
“I don’t really look at the score, whether it’s 10-0 or 1-0 like it was tonight. I just go out there and try to get three outs in the ninth and win the ballgame.”
Lee did allow a man to second in the ninth, but he got a groundball out to freshman shortstop Hayden Cantrelle followed by another to freshman third baseman Windham to end it.
“Our defense really, really helped Schmidty tonight with double plays, the tough groundballs at third base,” Robichaux said.
“Then not only did we get the (starting) pitching and the defense, but Nick Lee’s just been superb coming out of the bullpen. He velocity was back up again to 94.
“He threw an 94 miles-per-hour fastball and an 84 changeup, so there’s some disparity in those variables,” Robichaux added. “I think that’s what’s gonna make him good again.”
McKinnon doubled in Windham from second with two outs in the second.
Schmidt retired the side in order in the first, hit a man but otherwise took care of business in the second, retired the side in order again in the third, walked a man but sustained no other damage in the fourth and got out of the fifth with a double-play after Nick Perez broke up his no-hit bid with a one-out single.
Little Rock put runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, but UL used a double play and a 6-3 to get out of the half-inning.
Fidel retired 13-of-14 Cajuns during one stretch and retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Schmidt (5-0) retired the side in order again in the eighth, including two strikeouts looking before exiting.
BY THE NUMBERS
Fontenot extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 19 with a walk in the seventh. … Schmidt lowered his ERA to 1.36, including just 0.71 at home with opponents hitting only .176 against him at The Tigue. … All three Cajun hits were doubles. … Paid attendance was announced to be 4,794.
McKinnon took a pitch off the hand in UL’s loss to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night, but went all the way Friday anyway.
Robichaux said the Cajuns have a “good prognosis” on senior closer Logan Stoelke, who’s been out with a groin strain. Stoelke “should” return next weekend, Robichaux said.
Windham, meanwhile, returned from what Robichaux called an “illness” to start again at third base.
UL and Little Rock play the second outing of their three-game series at 6 p.m. Saturday.
UL vs. LITTLE ROCK
WHAT: Middle outing of three-game Sun Belt Conference college baseball weekend series
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
RECORDS: UL 21-18, 9-7 in the Sun Belt; Little Rock 20-16, 9-6
STREAMING: RaginCajuns.com with Dan McDonald
RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker and Brad Topham
PITCHING MATCHUP: Junior LHP Hogan Harris (2-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. junior RHP Pablo Ortiz (2-1, 2.28)