LAFAYETTE — Georgia Southern knocked four balls out of M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field — three of which went for two-run homers — in a series-clinching 7-4 win against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.
The Eagles (19-13, 9-5 Sun Belt) took full advantage of mistakes on both the mound and the base paths to hand the Cajuns (15-13, 7-6) their first series loss at home since 2013.
The Cajuns pitched well outside of the four home runs, striking out 11 against just three walks.
“When there’s a mistake, they’re going to hit it hard,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “We’ve got to locate better (Sunday) and keep the ball down. When we did that, the ball stayed in the ballpark.”
Cajuns starter Greg Milhorn (1-1) had his strikeout pitch working early against the Eagles, fanning five in his first three innings.
Perhaps more impressive was the efficiency Milhorn worked with. He needed only 30 pitches to face the minimum through the first third of the game. The only blemish was a one-out, second-inning walk of Ryan Cleveland, but catcher Nick Thurman threw Cleveland out two pitches later.
“I thought he was really sharp early,” Georgia Southern coach Rodney Hennon said. “We were chasing some pitches down and out of the zone.”
Georgia Southern starter Tripp Sheppard (3-2) was also solid through three innings, giving up just one hit and one unearned run. But that pitchers’ duel dissipated quickly starting in the fourth.
Kody Adams ended Milhorn’s no-hit bid with a single to lead off the inning, and Aaron Mizell followed with an opposite-field home run over the left-field wall to put the Eagles ahead 2-1.
The Cajuns looked like they had their answer in the fifth when Stefan Trosclair ripped his second homer of the series down the left-field line to tie it. The way Milhorn was pitching, it looked like the Cajuns would take control later in the fifth when Nick Thurman’s single to left-center brought home two more runs to make it a 4-2 Cajuns lead.
But Georgia Southern apparently figured the two-run homer was the best way to erase a deficit quickly.
Both Chase Griffin and Dalton Busby took Milhorn for a ride in the sixth for two-run homers. Griffin’s shot went about three-quarters of the way up the trees behind the left-field fence, and Busby’s chased Milhorn.
“I thought Milly did well; he just left a couple pitches up, and they got out of the ballpark,” Robichaux said.
Chris Charpentier entered for Milhorn and stabilized the game, striking out four in 2.2 innings. But he wasn’t immune to the power display the Eagles put on: Hunter Thomas tagged him for a towering solo shot to right in the eighth.
The multiple-run cushion was plenty for the Eagles, who used three relievers to shut down the Cajuns over the final four innings. Chris Brown worked a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
The Cajuns helped out the Eagles’ pitchers by making three base running errors — the worst of which came in the eighth, when Dylan Butler wandered too far off second base on Evan Powell’s line drive to right. Butler was thrown out for a double play with the tying run at the plate.
“We made a couple base running mistakes, and then guys start to over-try,” Robichaux said. “When you get to over-try mode, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to slow down and stay on what you’re taught to do.”
Both Trosclair (11 games) and Blake Trahan (19) extended their hitting streaks to career-high levels.
Freshman Evan Guillory (2-0, 4.70 ERA) will be on the mound for the Cajuns in Sunday’s series finale, with first pitch coming at 1 p.m.
“We’ll have to come out here and try to fight them,” Robichaux said, “not fight ourselves.”