LAFAYETTE — On Sunday, pitching in his 38th career game, sophomore right-hander Dylan Moore set a new Louisiana-Lafayette standard for saves.
That was quick.
The way he did it might’ve been just as impressive. Moore was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week after striking out eight of the nine batters he faced against Troy in two appearances. He earned a save in both of those games, giving him 17 for his career.
Moore just shrugged his shoulders when he was asked about his sterling performance and the school record that he now owns.
Whatever the team asks him to do, he said, he’ll do it to the best of his ability.
And the best of his ability has turned out to be pretty good. That didn’t come easy, coach Tony Robichaux said.
“You can’t sharpen an iron with a paper plate or a napkin,” Robichaux said. “He’s gone through a lot of tough deals as a freshman that sharpened him up.”
In a sense, Moore went through some early struggles as a freshman last year. He gave up a homer in his debut, an 8-2 loss to UTSA, then hit a road bump in back-to-back appearances against Little Rock and Georgia State, giving up a combined seven hits and three earned runs.
But that’s about where the trouble stopped for Moore, who has been as close as it gets to lights-out since that outing against Georgia State last year — for which he still earned a save.
He allowed just two earned runs over his next 18 appearances, many of which were multiple-inning relief outings. His ERA over that stretch was 0.84.
Moore finished his freshman season with 13 saves, setting the Cajuns new single-season saves record. His 1.60 ERA was the best mark on the team, and so was his .205 batting average against. He was named a freshman All-American by three different organizations.
And he approached this offseason as if none of that happened.
“Coach Robe always says repeating success is the hardest thing you can do,” Moore said. “Me and a lot of other guys, we were up here all summer and we worked out twice a day, we ran, we really did what needed to be done to try to take what we did last year even farther.”
It’s paid off. In 10 innings over six appearances this season, Moore has allowed just one earned run. He He has 17 strikeouts against just two walks, and opponents have managed just three hits in 35 at-bats against him.
The strikeout numbers have spiked from last year, when he struck out 40 in 50.2 innings, though Moore said that’s not intentional.
“It’s just the way things are falling right now,” Moore said. “I’m missing some bats a little bit. As long as they’re outs — I don’t care if they’re popouts, flyouts to the warning track — it doesn’t matter.”
It’s not necessarily the stuff that put Moore in position to break the saves record at this stage of his career, though. It’s his mindset.
“I think he got accustomed to it early and has been able to deal with what a closer has to deal with,” Robichaux said. “He has to get three outs and he never looks at the score. He just focuses on the outs he has to get. Bad closers, they will look at the score and see what they can’t give up.
“Because of that, it’s allowed him to get saves early as a freshman, whereas most of the time you don’t get that role until you’re an older guy.”
GETTING TO KNOW NORTHWESTERN STATE
Top player: 3B David Fry, who is hitting .323 with three homers and seven RBIs
Statistic to know: The Demons have attempted 38 stolen bases this season and have been successful 31 times.