RUSTON — The first road trip of the season was not kind to Louisiana-Lafayette’s baseball team.
Neither was Louisiana Tech’s pitching staff.
Staked to a solid six-inning start by senior left-hander Tyler Clancy, the Bulldogs broke open a close game with a four-run fifth inning and went on to a 6-2 victory over the sixth-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns.
Clancy (2-0) had nine strikeouts and scattered five hits, providing most of the 13 strikeouts recorded by the Bulldogs staff in handing the Cajuns (3-1) their first loss of the season.
“You’re on the road for the first time, and they (Tech) have the momentum now,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “We don’t have our crowd, they’ve got theirs; so they have some adrenaline working. What we have to do is cut that momentum down, and we didn’t do that.”
Tech (3-1), buoyed by a crowd of 2,095 for the home opener at J.C. Love Field, pushed across single runs in the second and third innings off UL-Lafayette starter Evan Guillory (0-1). But it was the four-run fourth that put things out of reach for a Cajuns team that didn’t get a runner to third base until the eighth, when pinch hitter Hunter Kasuls delivered a two-run single.
“They nickel-and-dimed us — one run, one run — but that didn’t kill us,” Robichaux said. “We let that fifth inning get away from us. Instead of leaving it 2-0 and Kasuls drives in two and now we’ve got a small game at 2-2, we let them get even more adrenalin and more momentum, and now they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
The Bulldogs hadn’t beaten the Cajuns since 2006, with UL-Lafayette winning four in a row before the teams discontinued the series after the 2008 season. Tech comes to Lafayette on April 27 for the return game.
Jordan Washam’s two-out double plated Sean Ullrich in the second inning for a 1-0 lead, and a leadoff triple by Bryce Stark and a ground-ball single by Raphael Gladu made it 2-0 one inning later.
Guillory, a weekend starter for the Cajuns as a freshman last year, retired the next six batters he faced before Chandler Hall’s one-out double in the fifth. That brought on reliever Will Bacon, who promptly walked Stark and then gave up a double to Gladu that scored Hall.
Marshall Boggs then followed with a sinking liner to left field that Jam Williams tried to shoestring-catch. The ball got by Williams and rolled to the wall, allowing Stark and Gladu to score. Boggs then scored the fourth run of the inning on Cody Daigle’s single.
Reliever Jevin Huval made his debut and came on to record two outs to get out of the inning and fanned two of the four hitters he faced in the sixth. Nick Zaunbrecher and Chris Charpentier pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, but the damage had already been done.
“We were able to pick Huval up and he threw well tonight, and Zaunbrecher and Charpentier each had a good inning,” Robichaux said. “We did a lot of good things, we just let that one inning get away from us. We played eight innings, and in this game you have to play nine.”
Clancy stranded six runners in his six innings, throwing 107 pitches five days after throwing 85 in a season-opening win over Prairie View in the MLB Urban Invitational in New Orleans. Reliever Graham Ahlrich retired the side in order in the seventh but walked Joe Robbins and Brenn Conrad to start the eighth.
Adam Atkins came on to get two outs before Kasuls drilled a single to left-center to score UL-Lafayette’s two runs. but Atkins retired four of the next five, striking out Johnny Riser and Alex Pinero for the final two outs.
UL-Lafayette heads to Houston Friday-Sunday to take part in the six-team Shriners Children’s Hospital College Classic at Minute Maid Park, facing TCU at 3:30 p.m. Friday in its tournament opener.