LAFAYETTE — Southeastern Louisiana brought home three runs in the eighth inning to rally to a 5-3 win Tuesday night, ending the Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team’s winning streak at six games.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “We had one bad inning.”
Six consecutive Southeastern (27-11) batters reached with one out in the eighth, but the Cajuns (23-11) were about 2 feet away from getting out of the inning without any damage.
Reliever Colton Lee induced what should’ve been an inning-ending double play ball when he got Julian Service to hit a chopper to the mound. Lee spun and threw to second, but shortstop Blake Trahan caught the ball a few feet off the bag.
The problem, Robichaux said, was that Trahan charged the ball thinking it would get over Lee’s head. He had to rush to get back to the bag and didn’t make it back in time.
It was a tough play, Robichaux said, but one when the Cajuns needed to at least get one out.
“We again give them more free bases,” Robichaux said. “That’s what they do. They hold you down and they try to get free bases, and when they do they try to execute.”
After an intentional walk to load the bases, the Lions got back-to-back singles — just their fourth and fifth hits — to bring three runs home.
The Cajuns had two more cracks at it and brought the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings but, as was the case most of the night, they couldn’t find the big hit when they needed it.
“We got 11 hits,” Robichaux said. “We just didn’t get enough hits back-to-back.”
They had at least one hit in each of the first eight innings but were only able to cash in on those opportunities twice: when Joe Robbins drove a two-out pitch into right field to score Kyle Clement in the fourth, and when they scored on an error in the sixth.
Robichaux said the plan was to jump to an early lead so the Lions couldn’t deploy their usual small-ball offensive tactics with the same effectiveness. That plan would’ve worked if the Cajuns could have found timely hitting, but they stranded runners in scoring position each of their first three innings — including the second, when they had runners at second and third with one out.
“When you play on the razor’s edge like we do, we don’t pull away from people,” Robichaux said. “We can’t separate ourselves. So because of that, everything has to go right.”
The Cajuns took the lead on Tyler Girouard’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but Lee and freshman Dylan Moore were not able to hang on to it.
The opportunities were much fewer for Southeastern, which had just three hits through the first seven innings, but the Lions made their opportunities count.
Cajuns starter Eric Carter made a mistake on an 0-2 pitch to Lions No. 8 hitter Chris Eades, and Eades made him pay, driving the ball over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.
“People don’t realize how many little things in a game can do you in,” Robichaux said. “That’s a pitch that should’ve been in and up; instead it was out over the plate and up, so he gets his barrel on it and he gets it out of the ballpark.”
The late Lions rally spoiled a fantastic effort by reliever Will Bacon, who entered for Carter to start the fourth and did not allow a hit over four innings.
With starter Greg Milhorn possibly out of commission for the Cajuns’ weekend series against Texas State, Robichaux pulled Bacon after 43 pitches with an eye toward the looming conference series.
“He threw lights-out for us,” Robichaux said. “He’d gone enough, because he might have to start on Sunday for us, and he might have to come out of the bullpen on Saturday. That was about as far as we could let him go.”