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Baseball: How Brandon Talley helps the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns baseball team in more ways than one
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 19, 2021
Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas.
The Baseball Team hosts Troy for Senior Weekend this Thursday-Friday- Saturday.
Brandon Talley hit a pinch-hit home run in the first game of UL’s doubleheader at Texas-Arlington, then started the second game at designated hitter and worked the final inning to get the save.
It was precisely what Ragin’ Cajuns coach Matt Deggs envisioned when he brought the pitcher/first baseman in from Grayson College in Texas.
“Talley will always be a two-way guy with me,” Deggs said.
“Part of what makes Talley effective is that he’s a position player. And there’s a psychology that goes into that. The two can feed off each other.”
Quite effectively, especially on the mound in Talley’s case.
“He’s throwing strikes, he’s commanding his breaking ball well,” outfielder Connor Kimple said. “I couldn’t be more happy for him. It’s fun playing defense behind him.”
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Brandon Talley pitches 9-0 shutout at the Tigue on May 1 vs. Texas State. Benjamin R. Massey, Ragincajuns.com
Working 30.0 relief innings over a team leading 24 appearances, Talley has a team best 1.80 ERA.
He also takes a team high seven saves into UL’s final regular season series, which opens Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN?) at home against Troy (26-12, 12-9 Sun Belt) with a Sun Belt Conference West Division title at stake for the Cajuns (28-21, 11-10).
“He’s just a throwback, man,” Deggs said. “Talley could have pitched in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s.
“He wants the ball, and he’s got a very, very understated demeanor. He doesn’t get too hyped or too down. He’s the same dude every day, and he’s just very, very steady and consistent. And he’s a very tough kid.”
Talley, who originally signed with Louisiana Tech coming out of Princeton (Texas) High, loves the load he’s taken on.
“The more pitching appearances you get, the more comfortable (you are),” he said. “As far as taxing the arm, luckily my arm’s been pretty good.
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“I’ve never really had arm issues, thank God. (I) just get in there, and once that adrenaline gets going if there any aches or anything like that it’s all done by then.”
In the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, his first at UL, Talley made five appearances. With a 2.76 ERA, he struck out 22 while walking just five batters. Talley also started six of the Cajuns’ 17 games in the field.
Added recently to the NCWBA Stopper of the Year midseason watch list, Talley’s strikeout-to-walk ratio this year is 40-to-13.
He has only 17 plate appearances, several as a pinch hitter. But Talley still works as much with position players as he does in the bullpen, earning plenty of respect.
“He’s big energy in the locker room, a guy you can lean on for more than just lights-out pitching,” Kimple said.
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“A lot of people don’t see the (batting practice) he’s taking, the amount of ground balls he’s taking,” Deggs added. “I think that benefits him on the pitching side of things. And I think the pitching side of things ultimately benefits his hitting.”
It’s a delicate balance, though.
Deggs tries not to pitch Talley more than twice on a given weekend series. And with multiple options at first base, including CJ Willis, Ben Fitzgerald and Josh Cofield, he’s used sparingly there – keeping him fresher coming out of the bullpen.
“I’ve got to protect Talley a little bit,” Deggs said, “because he’s really good on the mound.”
For Talley, the workload is no big deal. He’s willing to do whatever whenever.
“It really is just ‘whatever’s asked’ – go in there and do the best of my ability and try to help the team win,” he said.
“But, yeah, I have thrown a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.”
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